UFC 221: Luke Rockhold vs Yoel Romero

Jan 10 2018 Los Angeles CA USA General overall view of Nike basketballs prior to an NCAA basketball game between the Colorado Buffaloes and the Southern California Trojans at Galen Center. Mandatory Credit Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Rockhold was originally scheduled to challenge for Robert Whittaker's undisputed middleweight title.

Romero landed a massive left hand over the top on the temple that sent Rockhold down, and then delivered another underhand that put his lights out in the third round.

UFC president Dana White has told ESPN that Romero will be Whittaker's next title challenger - a rematch of a closely contested bout last July, where Whittaker (19-4) came out with a unanimous decision.

Romero did not appear at Saturday's post-fight press conference because he was transported to the hospital.

Bloodied and with a lump on his right temple, the Santa Cruz native was TKO'd in the third round by Yoel Romero, a renowned wrestler out of Cuba. Romero was originally scheduled to face David Branch at UFC on Fox 28 in Orlando, Fla., on February 24 before he accepted the fight against Rockhold. And even though a second fight between Whittaker and Romero - less than one year after the original - might feel like a move backward, it's the only next step the UFC should consider.

The pair traded vicious leg kicks throughout the first round, with Rockhold bleeding from his shin and Romero walking with a noticeable limp. As Romero so often does, he came to life in the second round.

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Why they should fight: After a layoff of more than 14 months, Safarov finally resumed his UFC career with a bout against Tyson Pedro, but it didn't go very well for him.

Had Romero made weight, I would have likely leaned toward him.

Sure, Romero has already been punished by having 30% of his purse taken away and given to Rockhold, plus he was ineligible for the $50,000 Performance of the Night bonus.

But the 26-year old American played it wisely and changed things up, taking Hunt down to the canvas, where the two spent most of the remainder of the fight as Blaydes superior fitness eventually told, the judges scoring it 30-26, 30-26 and 29-27 in the U.S. fighter's favour. The problem? Romero missed weight.

After Rockhold had gathered some of his scattered bearings, Romero tried to console him, something that made for a hard watch.

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