UFC 213: Whittaker outlasts Romero to become Australasia’s first UFC Champion

Robert Whittaker has produced a sterling comeback against Cuba’s Yoel Romero to become the first Australian based fighter to capture a UFC championship.

Whittaker won the fight 48-47 on all three of the judges’ scorecards to win the interim UFC middleweight championship.

Despite his unanimous victory Whittaker’s win was not without obstacle; Whittaker suffered an injury off of a Romero kick in the first round that left his knee unstable and hampered his movement throughout the fight. Whittaker gritted his teeth and was able to utilise his creative striking and smart game plan to secure the last three rounds against the dangerous Cuban.

Throughout the first two rounds Romero was able to achieve some success utilizing his unorthodox striking and takedown game. By the third round Romero’s explosive style had begun to take its toll and Whittaker started to take control of the fight, stopping Romero’s takedown’s and landing heavy punches and a myriad of front leg snap kicks to the body.

Whittaker’s success continued throughout the final two rounds, as he was able to avoid Romero’s takedown attempts, disengage from the clinch and land heavy shots against the Cuban Olympian. The fight ended with Whittaker on top of Romero, raining down punches to secure the victory and cap off a classy and gutsy performance.

Whittaker will now face Middleweight Champion Michael Bisping in a title unification bout, with UFC President Dana White stating that he would love to “do the fight in Australia.¨ With the UFC scheduled to return to Sydney on the 19th of November a UFC championship fight taking place on Australian soil could occur sooner rather than later.

Elsewhere on the card Alastair Overeem managed to hold off a surging Fabrcio Werdum to volt himself back into heavyweight contention. Overeem largely controlled the first two rounds of the fight by implementing a patient and wary strategy, picking his strikes from the outside. Werdum came back with a vengeance in the final round but was unable to do enough to sway the decision in his favour.

Anthony Pettis also made a successful return to the lightweight division, with a bloody victory against lightweight stalwart Jim Miller. Pettis showed an unusually aggressive side throughout large portions of the fight, integrating his flashy kicks and submission attempts to secure the victory.

Main Card:

  • Robert Whittaker (Australia) def. Yoel Romero via Decision (Unanimous: 48-47, 48-47, 48-47) – UFC interim middleweight title
  • Alistair Overeem def. Fabricio Werdum via Decision (Majority: 28-28, 29-28, 29-28)
  • Curtis Blaydes def. Daniel Omielanczuk via Decision (Unanimous: 30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
  • Anthony Pettis def. Jim Miller via Decision (Unanimous: 30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
  • Rob Font def. Douglas Silva de Andrade via Submission (Guillotine Choke), Rd 2, 4:36

Preliminary Card:

  • Aleksei Oleinik def. Travis Browne via Submission (Rear-Naked Choke), Rd 2, 3:44
  • Chad Laprise def. Brian Camozzi via TKO (Punches), Rd 3, 1:27
  • Thiago “Marreta” Santos def. Gerald Meerschaert via TKO (Strikes), Rd 2, 2:04
  • Belal Muhammad def. Jordan Mein via Decision (Unanimous: 29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
  • Cody Stamann def. Terrion Ware via Decision (Unanimous:  30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
  • Trevin Giles def. James Bochnovic via KO (Punches), Rd 2, 2:54
Jake Crane is a Melbourne based contributor for Fight News Australia.