Whittaker beats Romero in UFC fight of the year

UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker says he is in best shape ever before his UFC return bout with Yoel Romero

DANIEL CARSON GETTY IMAGES UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker says he is in best shape ever before his UFC return bout with Yoel Romero

A decision has been made regarding Robert Whittaker vs. Yoel Romero II. As previously reported, Romero failed to make weight for the fight. At his peak, Whittaker is a well-rounded fighter, combining high-volume striking - especially to opponents' heads - with a strong takedown defense.

Saturday's UFC 225 main event hit a snag prior to weigh-ins, as Yoel Romero was unable to make the middleweight mark of 185 pounds. With both fighters obviously exhausted and Whittaker favoring a right hand that had apparently been broken in one of the middle rounds, Romero spent most of the round chasing a wobbly champion around the cage, and significant time pummeling a turtled foe.

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Romero continued to keep his right hand at bay throughout the fight, insinuating that he must have an injured hand, but as Whittaker kept peppering him with jabs, Romero found a home for a powerful left that set up a right hand that rocked the champion yet again just before the horn.

Whittaker controlled the first two rounds and shaded the fourth, but was clearly hurt in both the third and fifth.

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So, for the second consecutive fight, Romero will be in a planned championship bout without the opportunity to claim the title. Two judges scored the contest 48-47 for Whittaker, while a third had it 48-47 for Romero. Romero swarmed and relentlessly punched Whittaker, who was on all-fours, just trying to survive. Tuivasa Bests ArlovskiTai Tuivasa (8-0) cleared a major hurdle, as one of the heavyweight division's most promising young prospects defeated former champion Andrei Arlovski (27-16) via unanimous decision. Also, Rafael dos Anjos will fight controversial up-and-comer Colby Covington in the interim welterweight fight. That includes moments with former WWE superstar CM Punk, who tackles Mike Jackson from inside the United Center in Chicago.

Holly Holm (-210) is favored against UFC debutante Megan Anderson (+180) in what amounts to a women's featherweight title eliminator. On Friday, he came in at 185.2 for his title fight with Robert Whittaker, forcing it to be a non-title fight affair.

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