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UFC 225 fight card primer: Robert Whittaker vs. Yoel Romero

After a scare yesterday, UFC 225’s main event is on, as Robert Whittaker and Yoel Romero rematch, though with no title on the line. Get the details here.

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Saturday night, UFC 225’s main event is a Middleweight rematch as UFC champion Robert Whittaker (19-4 MMA; 10-2 UFC) faces Yoel Romero (13-2 MMA; 9-1 UFC). The UFC rankings have Romero as the division’s #1 contender, with Whittaker at #13 on the pound for pound list. UFC 225: Whittaker vs. Romero 2 airs live from Chicago this Saturday night, June 9. The main card airs on PPV with a fight time of 10:00 p.m. ET / 7:00 p.m. PT, with the prelims starting at 8:00 p.m. ET on FS1 and 6:15 p.m. ET on Fight Pass.

This fight hit a bit of a snag yesterday when Romero failed to make the 185 pound limit on his first attempt. On his second and final attempt, he came in at 185.2, and because there is no allowance in title fights, that meant he officially failed to make weight. After some back and forth, it was agreed that the fight would continue as a 5 round main event, but is now a non-title fight. So no matter what happens Saturday night, Robert Whittaker will wake up Sunday morning the UFC Middleweight champion.

How do these two stack up?

Whittaker: 27 years old | 5’11" | 73" reach
Romero: 41 years old | 5’11" | 73.5" reach

What have these two done recently?

Whittaker: W - Yoel Romero (UD) | W - Jacare Souza (TKO) | W - Derek Brunson (TKO)
Romero: W - Luke Rockhold (KO) | L - Robert Whittaker (UD) | W - Chris Weidman (KO)

How did these two get here?

Robert Whittaker has come so far since his 2012 TUF win. After starting his UFC career an unceremonious 2-2, he’s been unstoppable, going 8-0 in an undefeated streak that lasts over 4 years. He won the interim title by defeating Romero last July, but has not fought since, as a very serious and scary staph infection kept him out. While on the sidelines, the Middleweight title moved to GSP who promptly retired, and Whittaker was promoted to full champion.

After missing almost all of 2016 due to a doping issue, Yoel Romero returned in spectacular fashion with a KO of Chris Weidman at UFC 205. He then got a shot at the interim title, losing to Whittaker in a fight where he seemed to get outworked and gassed. Romero is 1-0 since, defeating Luke Rockhold. In a situation very similar to tonight’s, Romero failed to make weight for that interim title fight, so despite winning, he was ineligible to win the title. That means that Yoel Romero, #1 Middleweight contender, hasn’t actually won a Middleweight fight since November 2016.

Why should you care?

I’m going to be honest here - I’m finding it hard to care. If Whittaker wins, then he has put back Romero again, and that’s cool. But if he loses, then Romero is, in theory, the top Middleweight who seems to no longer be able to actually make Middleweight. There’s potential for violence, sure, but their first fight was good, but nothing overly spectacular. Sorry.