Yoel Romero was unable to win the interim UFC middleweight championship despite beating Luke Rockhold in the UFC 221 main event on Saturday night, but he is likely to get the next shot at current champion Robert Whittaker.
Romero was supposed to be squaring off with Rockhold for the interim belt in the UFC 221 headliner, but after he missed weight on Friday, he was ineligible to win the title and also had to forfeit 30-percent of his fight purse to the former champion.
The Cuban silver medalist from the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney went on to destroy Rockhold early the third round. He sent Rockhold falling to his backside courtesy of an overhand left, then finished him off with a left uppercut that put Rockhold out cold.
Despite missing weight on Friday and being unable to win the interim title, Romero is still likely to get the next shot at Whittaker.
UFC president Dana White reportedly responded to a text message from ESPN reporter Brett Okamoto, saying, “Yes,” the plan is for Romero to face Whittaker next.
Asked Dana White if plan is to have Yoel Romero fight Robert Whittaker next, despite the fact he didn't win an interim title tonight.
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) February 11, 2018
Though it might sound counterintuitive to award a title shot to an athlete that failed to make weight, Romero does have at least somewhat of an excuse, having taken the Rockhold fight on short notice.
Rockhold was originally scheduled to challenge Whittaker for the undisputed title at UFC 221, but when the Aussie champion had to withdraw due to injury and illness, Romero agreed to face Rockhold for an interim version of the title on just four weeks notice.
That may sound like a lot of time, but for a big, muscular guy like Romero, who is also 40 years of age, it wasn’t an easy task. He came close, tipping the scale at 187.7 pounds on his second attempt, but he couldn’t quite make it to 185 pounds in time.
As such, and with few clear contenders for the belt, White appears inclined to give Romero another crack at Whittaker, whom he lost to at UFC 213 last summer.