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UFC 221 takeaways: Romero ices Rockhold, youngsters shine in Perth

UFC 221 takeaways: Romero ices Rockhold, youngsters shine in Perth

Former UFC middleweight champ Luke Rockhold's (16-4 MMA, 6-3 UFC) quest to regain UFC gold suffered a blow in Saturday's UFC 221 main event.

But Romero, who was a substitute for UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker, who pulled out of a scheduled bout with Rockhold due to illness, missed weight Friday, clocking in at 187.7 for a 185-pound fight.

Romero won Sunday's bout in the third round with a powerful uppercut, but he had already been ruled ineligible for the interim middleweight belt after failing to make weight on Saturday.

In the second, Romero rushed his man early and fired a barrage of shots that pinned Rockhold against the fence but the Cuban didn't land anything really hurtful and Rockhold was eventually able to find an escape route, allowing him to take things back into the centre of the cage.

The win sets up a bumper rematch between the two, who won his title by downing Romero via unanimous decision previous year.

Romero was in frightening form before his loss to Whittaker, winning eight in a row, including knockouts over former champions Lyoto Machida and Chris Weidman.

UFC 221 live stream, watch online, Luke Rockhold vs. Yoel Romero. In terms of competing, Rockhold was last seen running through David Branch in September.

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If Romero and Whittaker do indeed fight again, it'll be a rematch of their 2017 bout at UFC 213. Rockhold stayed behind his jab and drilled Romero with leg kicks, while Romero kept the former champion honest with his Olympic-caliber wrestling and punching power.

Rockhold appears to be in good spirits, though, who took to social media to congratulate the victor.

Romero took the second with a number of clubbing flurries that wobbled Rockhold, but the American was right in the fight until Romero detonated his thunderous left.

In this fight, Romero will need to conserve his energy.

"Typical. Par for the course with Yoel Romero", Rockhold responded, later posting on Twitter: "Should have be doing the salsa in the sauna".

Hunt, 43, has now lost two of his last three fights.

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