In the song “Diamonds from Sierra Leone”, Kanye West asks: “When you talk about classics, does my name come up? Whittaker might do the same when it comes to this performance when people discuss championship best efforts inside the Octagon.
Romero is a different kind of athlete – a mass of muscle and explosive power; an Olympic freestyle silver medalist who entered this bout with a perfect 8-0 record in the UFC, including stoppage wins over former champions Lyoto Machida and Chris Weidman.
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Whittaker had won seven straight, with the last six coming after his move up from welterweight. The move up to the 185-pound ranks allowed the technical forward to use more of his speed and tactical approach, resulting in back-to-back wins over Derek Brunson and Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza.
With Bisping on the sidelines awaiting a November engagement with Georges St-Pierre, Whittaker and Romero met for the interim middleweight title at UFC 213, and after falling 0-2 to start the fight, the man affectionately known as Bobby Knuckles orchestrated one of the best championship wins from behind in UFC history.
Despite a knee injury, Whittaker battled through Romero to start the third, working behind long kicks down the middle and sharp boxing. His movement was excellent and he spread out well the few times Romero looked to grapple, with the muscular Cuban looking tired when he came back to the corner at the end of the round.
WATCH: Whittaker speaks with Bisping after Gastelum win
The fourth started with Whittaker pushing Romero back in a wrestling exchange, avoiding any real damage despite Romero being in control for the first 90 seconds. In the second half of the round, the Aussie pushed the pace, defending well and dominating the strike exchanges, equalizing before the final frame.
Romero was more active and effective in the fifth, jabbing Whittaker early in the round, but again ‘The Reaper’ adjusted and went on the offensive, lashing out at Romero every time he moved forward, firing with short, sharp blows before closing. the frame by pressing the elbows down from the top position.
In the first two rounds it was all Romero, but the rest of the way Whittaker was the better man, winning the unanimous decision with scores of 48-47 across the board.
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