Yoel Romero’s indiscretions on the scale were dwarfed by another dynamite performance inside the Octagon.
The 2000 Olympic silver medalist overcame his customary slow start to wipe out Luke Rockhold with punches in the third round of their UFC 221 main event on Feb. 10 in Perth, Australia. Romero missed weight for the match, costing him a shot at interim gold at 185 pounds. Nevertheless, his efforts were likely enough to secure a rematch with undisputed middleweight champion Robert Whittaker -- a man who defeated him by unanimous decision in July -- once “Bobby Knuckles” completes his recovery from knee surgery and a subsequent staph infection. Romero now owns a 9-1 record in the Ultimate Fighting Championship and remains arguably the most imposing physical specimen in mixed martial artist. The 40-year-old American Top Team rep rises to third in our latest middleweight rankings, pushing the vanquished Rockhold to No. 4.
Romero was not the only fighter to make waves Down Under. Surging heavyweight contender Curtis Blaydes picked up the most significant victory of his career in the co-headliner, as he recorded a unanimous decision over Mark Hunt. Blaydes rebounded from nearly being knocked out in the first round and seized control with determined takedowns, suffocating top control and steady ground-and-pound. On a three-fight winning streak, the 26-year-old Chicago native makes his debut at No. 8 on our updated heavyweight list. Hunt, meanwhile, falls to ninth.
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