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Whittaker doesn’t want to fight Romero forever: I just beat ‘the boogeyman of the division twice’

Middleweight champion Robert Whittaker has had a couple days to think about the idea of fighting Yoel Romero again, and it doesn’t sound like that would be his first choice.

The main event of UFC 225 was something special. For the second time in as many years Robert Whittaker took on Yoel Romero in a classic thriller of a fight. And for the second time, he beat him.

The result wasn’t without controversy, however. Whittaker was badly hurt in each of the last three rounds. But, two of three judges saw it his way, and whatever protests Romero may make, that’s the part that matters. The question now is, given the fantastic, competitive nature of the contest – and given the debatable ending – do Whittaker and Romero do it all over again?

Rogan asked as much of Whittaker during his post-fight interview.

“This was such a good fight,” Rogan told a visibly exhausted Whittaker, “what would you think would be next for you? Do you think that a rubber match would be required?”

“I gotta see what my coaches say,” Whittaker responded. “I gotta let my body heal again. He was a tough fight, I’ll tell you that much. He hits real hard. I’m just gonna go back, increase my skill set again, talk to my team, and see where the journey takes us.”

If that sounds a bit noncommittal, Whittaker had a much more definitive take on the question this past Monday, on the MMA Hour. Speaking to Ariel Helwani, Whittaker didn’t quite say he wouldn’t take a third fight with Romero, but he did make it clear that that probably wouldn’t be his first choice (transcript via MMA Mania).

“When Rogan asked me in the Octagon the other night, he said rubbermatch and for one, I have never heard of the term rubber match so he caught me off guard there,” Whittaker said. “Second, I had just beat the boogeyman of the division twice back-to-back. I don’t think it’s how the division, UFC conducts business. To get the champion to fight one guy, who on both occasions doesn’t make weight for a championship fight, back-to-back-to-back. Like, am I going to fight Yoel Romero forever?”

The champion did add that his threat to walk away from the bout if Romero missed weight was more to get in his opponent’s head than it was an actual intention. “... I was more trying to get my opponent to think about it and take a little more seriously,” he said when asked about his past comments. “I’m a professional in all the things I do, and when I sign the contract and it says 185, I make sure I am 185.”

Currently the UFC has two potential top contenders for the middleweight title not named Romero. Kelvin Gastelum, who is currently coming off wins over Michael Bisping and Jacare Souza – and who Dana White intimated had “personal issues” to settle before he could fight again. And former champion Chris Weidman, who is coming off a win over none other than Kelvin Gastelum. But, Weidman has also been nursing a hand injury since that fight, one that doesn’t seem to be healing as planned. Hopefully one of those two men can be ready to fight for the title late this year, or Whittaker may find himself staring an all too familiar challenger in the face once again.

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