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Yoel Romero says Robert Whittaker’s tactics stopped leg kick attack

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Yoel Romero did a lot of damage to Robert Whittaker’s leg in the early rounds of their UFC 213 title fight, and then he stopped. But why?

MMA: UFC 213-Romero vs Whittaker Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

In the early portions of their Interim title fight at UFC 213, it looked like Yoel Romero had Robert Whittaker dead to rights. In what was otherwise a fairly even first round, Romero blasted Whittaker’s knee, slowing his attack. In round 2, Romero started to control Whittaker against the cage and on the ground. It seemed like the injury would play a major factor.

And then it didn’t.

Not only did Whittaker go on to win the last three rounds of the bout, but Romero stopped targeting the injured leg. For his part, the Cuban middleweight says that wasn’t by choice, but due to the craft of his opponent (transcript via MMA Fighting).

“[I noticed it] after every time I would try to do the same side kick to the leg, he would change it,” Romero said at the UFC 213 post-fight conference.
“Yes, of course [I tried to use leg kicks], but he didn’t give me the opportunity,” Romero explained. “When I would try to do the same side kick to the leg, he would switch his leg, and I was running the risk of remaining in his [striking] guard, within reach of his hands.”

Whittaker is expected to go on to face Michael Bisping in a bid to unify the UFC middleweight championship in the near future. Romero made clear that he hopes to return to action soon.