clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

UFC 213 results: Robert Whittaker rallies to beat Yoel Romero, wins interim middleweight belt

New, comments

Fighting on an injured left leg and down two rounds, Robert Whittaker rallied to win the UFC interim middleweight title over Yoel Romero.

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

The interim middleweight title was on the line in the main event of UFC 213 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Neither Robert Whittaker nor Yoel Romero entered this fight with a loss at middleweight, but someone’s zero had to go, and while it looked as if that would be Whittaker after round 2, the Australian dug deep to win a unanimous decision over the Cuban powerhouse.

Whittaker sneaked in a right hand charging in on Romero to start proceedings. A kick by Romero made the Aussie slip momentarily. Whittaker threw a straight left off the counter as Yoel threw a body kick. Romero tried a hook kick that missed. The Olympic silver medalist in freestyle wrestling took Whittaker down but couldn’t hold him there. A flying knee by Romero cracked Whittaker but he took it well and stopped the next takedown. Whittaker fought his way out of the clinch and they returned to the center of the Octagon. A push kick to the chest sent Romero back to the fence. Romero again went for the takedown and Whittaker used the whizzer to keep himself upright. A high kick by Whittaker just went by the face of Romero. There appeared to be an issue with Whittaker’s left leg, caused by an oblique kick.

Romero partially blocked a right head kick by Whittaker to start round 2. Yoel tried a Superman punch and Whittaker was just able to get out of the way. Whittaker was still moving gingerly on that lead leg. Romero changed levels and got Whittaker down and held him there for an extended period of time. The 40-year-old stayed as active as he could as Whittaker held Romero in his guard. Whittaker attempted a sweep and then had to defend a potential suplex as he got back up. Romero turned to a trip to put Whittaker down for a split second. Whittaker threw knees to the body in the clinch, with his back against the fence. John McCarthy separated them after not seeing enough action from either man. A front kick and left hook slapped across Romero’s face. They swung for the fences and Whittaker stopped two shots by Romero with less than 30 seconds left in round 2. Romero got one last takedown to punctuate a round he clearly won.

Whittaker continued to throw kicks with his right leg. He clipped Romero with a left hand against the fence. Whiitaker fired off a beautiful body kick to Romero’s right side. Yoel got off a good left hook on Whittaker but his offense was relatively sporadic for much of round 3. Romero ducked under a lunging left by Whittaker as he charged forward. Whittaker landed a turning side kick but was struggling to connect too many flush shots. He closed out the halfway point with a right hook.

This was the first time either man had been to round 4. Whittaker cracked Romero with a solid head kick, one of the best strikes of the contest. Romero took Whittaker down and despite Whittaker’s efforts to scramble, Romero had a hold of him for a few seconds. Whittaker turned his hips, wriggled free, and landed a knee to the body on the exit. The flying knee for Romero just missed, and so did the Whittaker left hook. Another right high kick and a left hook tagged Romero, along with two push kicks to the body. Romero answered with an oblique kick to that damaged leg. Whittaker just missed with a life-altering uppercut. Romero got caught with a straight right. Romero failed on another takedown and perhaps stunned him with another right. Whittaker rocked him with an uppercut. Romero’s head kick was blocked and his next takedown attempt was sloppy. He looked fatigued. Whittaker had the decided advantage heading into the 5th and final round.

They traded left hooks in the final frame. Romero was also caught by a jab, but he ducked under a head kick. Whittaker tagged Romero with a vicious knee. A big flurry ensued and both men connected, but Whittaker was more accurate. Romero was hit by several more body kicks. Yoel’s face was bloodied due to one of Whittaker’s knees. Whittaker blocked a head kick and then thumped home another front kick to the body. Romero wasn’t shooting for takedowns any more and it was evident that he was more exhausted than Whittaker. He slipped in an exchange and Whittaker unleashed some elbows to the head and body from guard. Whittaker stepped over to half-guard and threw more elbows , all in direct view of Michael Bisping. The final seconds ticked away and it was no doubt another round in Whittaker’s favor, and it gave him the victory.

Official result: Robert Whittaker def. Yoel Romero by unanimous decision (48-47 x3) to become the UFC interim middleweight champion

Up next for Whittaker is reigning champion Michael Bisping. They were supposed to fight each other at UFC 193 (non-title, obviously), but now it’ll be a championship unification match when they do square off.