Last Saturday at UFC 225 in Chicago, Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight champion Robert Whittaker won a unanimous decision over top contender Yoel Romero in a rematch that many are calling “Fight of the Year.” Because Romero missed the championship weight limit, the fight was not an official title defense, but nonetheless was hailed as an instant classic.
In their first encounter at UFC 213 last July, Romero and Whittaker fought a very closely contested bout for the interim middleweight title. Whittaker, who tore the medial collateral ligament of his left knee early in the first round, won by decision and was later declared the undisputed champion after Georges St. Pierre announced that he was vacating his title.
Saturday's rematch went back and forth for five full rounds, with Whittaker landing swift kicks to the head, legs and body and Romero throwing powerful flurries in an attempt to finish his opponent. Whittaker later revealed that he had broken his right hand at some point after the first round, and for that reason he had spent the balance of the fight using mostly kicks and left-handed punches. Whittaker posted x-ray images of the broken hand on social media earlier this week.
In the in-cage interview immediately after Saturday's rematch, UFC color commentator Joe Rogan asked Whittaker if he would be interested in a trilogy fight. Whittaker replied that after regrouping with his team, they would decide the next steps in his career together.
Speaking to the "The MMA Hour” on Monday, Whittaker expressed his belief that there is no real point in facing Romero for a third time. Now that Whittaker is 2-0 against Romero, and given Romero's failure to make weight in two consecutive title fights, it is perhaps not surprising that Whittaker is looking to move on to the next challenge.
“I have just beat the boogeyman in the division twice, back to back,” Whittaker told Ariel Helwani. “I don’t think the UFC conducts business as where we get the champion to fight one guy who, in both occasions doesn’t make weight for a championship fight, back to back to back to back… Am I going to fight Yoel Romero forever?”