Yoel Romero Crushes Luke Rockhold by Knockout, Still Expected to Fight for the Title

Yoel Romero earned a vicious third round knockout to beat Luke Rockhold to secure a shot at middleweight champion Robert Whittaker

Yoel Romero isn’t the UFC interim middleweight champion but he will go home with a win over Luke Rockhold after earning a devastating third round knockout in the main event from Australia.

Romero endured a roller coaster ride over the past 24 hours after failing to make weight on Friday, coming in at 187.7 pounds, which disqualified him from winning the interim belt even with a victory over Rockhold.

Still, Romero soldiered through that set back and managed to put on another highlight reel performance to finish the former champion at UFC 221.

As the fight got underway, it was Rockhold who managed to control the distance with a long reach advantage over Romero, while picking away at him with leg kicks. Romero did a good job defending while just biding his time to wait for an opening to explode forward.

He didn’t get that opportunity until the second round when Romero came storming out of the gate and immediately put pressure on Rockhold as soon as the referee released them from their corners. Romero clipped Rockhold with a good punch and then backed him up against the cage where he unloaded a barrage of shots, looking for the knockout.

Rockhold survived but he was definitely on notice to be wary of Romero’s power.

Unfortunately, Rockhold failed to stop the next offensive onslaught from Romero in the third round when the Cuban born middleweight blasted him with a short, but explosive overhand left that put the former champion down on the mat.

Romero followed up with an absolute jaw-rattling left uppercut that knocked Rockhold unconscious as the referee rushed in to stop the fight.

While the night didn’t end with a belt around his waist, Romero still earned another huge knockout while also picking up his sixth finish in the third round since joining the UFC roster.

Following the fight, Romero apologized for not making weight, which is the first time that’s ever happened during his UFC career. While Romero missing weight put a wrinkle into the UFC 221 main event, UFC president Dana White confirmed to ESPN after the event that he would still earn a title shot against middleweight champion Robert Whittaker later this year.

As for Rockhold, he suffers his second knockout loss in his past three fights and he continues to search for a way to get back on top after losing the title in 2016.

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Damon Martin is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the industry since 2003 with bylines on FOX Sports, CNN, Bleacher Report and numerous other outlets.