UFC 221 in Australia features Luke Rockhold taking on Yoel Romero for the interim UFC Middleweight Championship. This event takes place on Sunday, February 11 in Australia, but because of the time difference it can be seen on Saturday night in North America. There are five fights on the main pay-per-view card and seven on the preliminary card, with four on FS1 and three on UFC Fight Pass. Let’s look at the event, with a focus on Rockhold vs. Romero and Curtis Blaydes vs. Mark Hunt.
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Luke Rockhold -140 vs. Joel Romero
This fight was supposed to be Rockhold taking on Robert Whittaker who is the current middleweight champion, but Whittaker pulled out due to injury and sickness. It will instead be Rockhold vs. Romero and the winner will face Whittaker in a title unification bout later this year.
Rockhold is 16-3 in his career. He lost the title to Michael Bisping at UFC 199 in June of 2016 but Rockhold came back to beat David Branch in September. Rarely does a Rockhold fight go the distance, as 14 of his 16 wins have been by finish.
Romero is 12-2 in his career and he will be getting a chance to win the interim champion for the second time. He faced Whittaker at UFC 213 and lost a close decision. He had won eight straight fights before that defeat.
Rockhold is the No. 3 ranked middleweight, while Romero is ranked No. 4. Rockhold said to MMAJunkie that he expects to finish Romero. “No one’s putting away Romero other than me and Whittaker, so that’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to put him away,” Rockhold said. “I’m going to show what’s up, and then I’m going to take on Whittaker.”
Rockhold said that Romero is overconfident. “I know he is almost overconfident at times. I think he doesn’t really understand where the dangers are I pose to him. I know what he is and what he’s capable of, but I’m going to give this guy more than he can handle. I’m going to shut him down. I’m willing to go deeper than he’ll ever go.”
Bettors seem to agree with Rockhold’s assessment of this fight, as Rockhold opened up as an underdog and he is now the favorite.
I will go with the money in this fight and take Rockhold and also play the rounds to go under the total.
Curtis Blaydes -170 vs. Mark Hunt
Blaydes is 8-1-1 in his career, including 3-1-1 in the UFC. Hunt is 13-11-1 in his career, but he is just 3-3-1 in his last seven fights. This should be a striking battle and Hunt should have the edge in that regard if his head is in fighting. Hunt has said in the media that he expects to die in the ring and those comments worried the UFC, as they pulled him from his last fight, but Hunt is getting a top spot against Blaydes at UFC 221.
If Hunt is focused and ready to fight he has the power to take out Blaydes and there is definitely value in taking Hunt at this price.
UFC 221 takes place on Sunday, February 11 at the Perth Arena in Perth, Australia but because of the time difference it will be seen live in North America on Saturday night. There are five fights on the main pay-per-view card featuring Yoel Romero vs. Luke Rockhold. There are seven preliminary bouts, with four on FS1 and three on UFC Fight Pass.
Main Card (Pay-per-view)
Middleweight - Luke Rockhold -140 vs. Yoel Romero
Heavyweight - Curtis Blaydes -170 vs. Mark Hunt
Heavyweight - Tai Tuivasa -300 vs. Cyril Asker
Welterweight - Li Jingliang -200 vs. Jake Matthews
Light Heavyweight - Tyson Pedro -255 vs. Saparbek Safarov
Preliminary Card (Fox Sports 1)
Lightweight - Damien Brown vs. Dong Hyun Kim
Middleweight - Rob Wilkinson vs. Israel Adesanya
Lightweight - Jeremy Kennedy vs. Alexander Volkanovski
Flyweight - Jussier Formiga vs. Ben Nguyen
Preliminary Card (UFC Fight Pass)
Lightweight - Ross Pearson vs. Mizuto Hirota
Bantamweight - Teruto Ishihara vs. José Alberto Quiñónez
Welterweight - Luke Jumeau vs. Daichi Abe
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