UFC 213 saw a new No. 1 contender rise to the top in the middleweight division as Robert Whittaker claimed the interim belt with a unanimous-decision win over Yoel Romero in the surprise main event from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday. He also impressed the man he will be fighting next in order to unify the titles, reigning Middleweight Champion Michael Bisping.
With a touch of the gloves, both middleweights met in the center of the Octagon. Whittaker hit more kicks. Robert however kept on coming with those kicks and punches. Whittaker bounced back up immediately and turned away a flying knee and a second takedown attempt by the Cuban. Whittaker breaks free and circles out. Whittaker fought off a takedown and landed a knee to the body. Even hampered, Whittaker was able to defend takedowns from the Olympian, and won round three. Whittaker recovered quickly but Romero followed up with another takedown attempt that Whittaker stuffed. Romero finally is able to slide out and Whittaker rolls to his stomach and is able to stand up.
Round one begins and Romero takes the center of the cage. He shoots in and scores a takedown.
Romero controlled his opponent and pushed him towards the fence. A right hand connected for Romero and he went back to the clinch. Miller gets back to his feet though, and Pettis spins him, scoring a trip and getting on top with 10 seconds to go. After a moment of inactivity, the referee separated them. Romero secured a takedown early in the second round causing a lot of trouble for Whittaker. Romero just misses with a hook kick.
Whittaker dominated the last three rounds of the fight, pinning the Cuban to the floor in the final minute. Santos connects with a pair of vicious leg kicks and then a straight punch moving back.
Backing Romero into the cage and Whittaker connected a front kick. A front kick to the body was there for Whittaker, who started to slow down as well. Silva de Andrade is in a bad way, but he manages to grab hold of Font, who ends up dragging Silva de Andrade to the mat. Ducking under Romero dropped down but ate an uppercut from Whittaker.
"It was a very, very close fight", Romero said. Whittaker with a knee and then a high kick. With both fighter's almost out of gas, the crowd stood on their feet as Romero and Whittaker exchanged blows in the center of the Octagon. Romero with a nice right hand.
A heavyweight fight between former champion Fabricio Werdum and Alistair Overeem might be the more appealing matchup for the non-hardcore fan, as both are well known from veteran careers in mixed martial arts. Whittaker landed some elbows. With the crowd on their feet, Whittaker transitioned to half-guard as the round and fight came to an end.