The lead-up to the UFC 221 headliner between Yoel Romero and Luke Rockhold was highly contentious. The two were often trading barbs at one another.
Things boiled over at the UFC 221 weigh-in on Friday when Romero failed to make weight. He stepped on the scale at 188.3 pounds for the 185-pound limit bout.
Lots of shouting ensued when they faced off with UFC exec David Shaw and others having to hold them apart.
Missing weight cost Romero 30-percent of his fight purse and the right to lay claim to being the interim UFC middleweight champion.
Rockhold could have become the interim champ, but fell victim to Romero at Perth Arena in Australia.
Rockhold started strong and appeared to have a solid strategy, chopping away at Romero with low kicks and using his reach advantage to remain out of Romero’s power range. While this worked early on in the fight, he couldn’t remain out of Romero’s range forever.
Early in the third round, Romero sent Rockhold reeling with an overhand left. Rockhold fell to his backside, remaining somewhat upright, but that gave Romero the perfect target, as he planted a left uppercut that knocked Rockhold out cold.
Romero did a round of short interviews before heading off to the hospital after the fight to have his leg checked, but Rockhold did not. He was immediately transported to the hospital to get checked out following the knockout.
Despite all the chatter leading up to their fight, when Rockhold broke his silence in the wee hours of Sunday morning, he had nothing but praise for Romero.
“Respect to Yoel. That man is made of steel,” Rockhold wrote.
Respect to Yoel that man is made of steel.
— Luke Rockhold (@LukeRockhold) February 11, 2018
It’s hard to say what is next for Rockhold, but it’s likely that Romero, despite failing to win the interim title, will get the next shot at UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker when both men are healthy enough to fight.