UFC 221 - Romero vs Rockhold Betting Tips, Preview and Predictions
Rockhold contests stand-in foe Romero for interim middleweight strap at UFC 221
The UFC 221 main event sees Luke Rockhold (16-3) collide with stand-in opponent Yoel Romero (12-2) at the Perth Arena in Australia this weekend, with the interim middleweight title up for grabs.
UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker was initially scheduled to make the first defence of his crown against former title holder Rockhold, but he was forced to withdraw due to a previous staph infection, hamstring injury and a case of the chickenpox.
The UFC moved quickly to replace the undisputed champion with hard-hitting contender Romero to salvage the PPV top billing in Perth, the first held “Down Under” since UFC 193 when Holly Holm stunningly knocked out Ronda Rousey.
This will be only Rockhold’s second octagon outing since shockingly losing his belt to Michael Bisping back in June 2016 at UFC 199, but he will enter as the odds-on 4/6 favourite with Paddy Power to prevail here.
Meanwhile, Romero, a 2000 Olympic Games Silver medallist in freestyle wrestling, is regarded at 11/10 with Betfair to win the interim belt at the second time of asking in his career.
Shot at undisputed champion Whittaker on the line for Rockhold and Romero
After that shock 2016 defeat at the hands of Bisping, losing his middleweight crown via a first-round knockout, Rockhold bounced back just last September.
The now 33-year-old secured a second-round stoppage success over challenger David Branch, pinning his opponent down and unleashing a flurry of vicious blows on the ground.
Before that former loss to Bisping, Rockhold had been on a destructive path in the organisation, having rallied to five consecutive victories by stoppage.
This included a Performance of the Night win over Bisping, in their first fight in 2014, and further strong showings against Lyoto Machida and Chris Weidman.
He next faces elite Cuban grappler Romero, with the hope of overcoming the former world title challenger in order to set up a showdown with originally scheduled foe Whittaker.
But Romero is also confidently chasing UFC gold once more, having previously come up short for the interim strap when being outpointed by the current undisputed champion Whittaker last time out in July.
The 40-year-old had prevailed in eight straight bouts prior to that maiden UFC setback, with the Cuban having simply ran out of gas in the latter stages of the defeat.
That could be a key aspect of this latest clash at UFC 221 on Australian soil, as Rockhold looks to seal a decisive victory ‘Down Under’ in his bid to get back on top of the middleweight division.
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