WATCH ON UFC FIGHT PASS
The rematch between Robert Whittaker and Yoel Romero wasn’t contested for Whittaker’s UFC middleweight title, but the UFC 225 main event delivered championship level action a second time at United Center, with Whittaker taking a split decision victory over the Cuban in a grueling 25-minute battle.
“Yoel hits like a truck and I just had to try and survive and make the comeback,” said Whittaker. “I could have seen it going any way because it was tight, but I hit him a lot and I thought I did enough to get three of the five rounds.”
Scores were 48-47 twice and 47-48 for Whittaker, 21-4, who decisioned Romero at UFC 213 last July.
Romero, who missed weight for the bout at 185.2 pounds, making him ineligible to win the title, falls to 13-3.
Whittaker went after Romero’s lead leg with his kicks as the fight began, following up with stiff jabs upstairs. Romero stood stoically with his hands high under the attack, but when he did throw back, the punches were designed to end the bout. Luckily for Whittaker, none of those landed, allowing the champion to use his superior work rate to win the round.
Romero got busier in the second round, but it was still Whittaker staying a step ahead with his own punches and kicks. Soon, Romero’s right eye was nearly swollen shut, prompting a sense of urgency from the Cuban, who still wasn’t able to catch up with “The Reaper.”
In the third, Romero came out swinging, and less than 30 seconds in, he landed a right hand that dropped Whittaker. The Aussie scrambled up and looked for a takedown, but Romero wasn’t having it. The two proceeded to trade bombs at close range, with Whittaker scoring with a huge elbow that slowed Romero considerably. With under two minutes left, Romero was fighting with his mouth wide open, but then he began drilling Whittaker with punches to the head. Whittaker responded with a flush head kick, but Romero walked right through it, and the two proceeded to clinch and grab a well-deserved breather until the end of the round.
Whittaker scored with a pair of head kicks to start round four while Romero was conserving his energy as much as possible. After a brief halt to the action following a low kick by Whittaker, the champion continued to fire kicks and left hands, as his right hand was suspected to be injured. In the second half of the round, Romero got busier, and while he wasn’t as busy as Whittaker, “The Soldier of God” did stagger Whittaker with a pair of blows in the final 30 seconds.
With a last burst of energy, Romero went on the attack to start round five, and in the second minute, a left hand dropped Whittaker. In deep trouble, Whittaker did what he could to survive on the mat, and he did, ultimately making it back to his feet. Romero stayed locked on to Whittaker, but the Cuban’s gas tank was closing in on empty. After a stall in the action, referee Dan Miragliotta restarted the bout with less than a minute to go, and the fight made it to its 25-minute conclusion, with both fighters delivering another classic.