The main event for UFC 213 on Saturday was for the interim middleweight championship, which was won by Robert Whittaker by 48-47 unanimous decision.
Robert Whittaker (19-4-0) becomes the first Australian champion in UFC history. Yoel Romero (12-2) was the No. 1 ranked contender going into the fight, but he will now have to wait for his chance at the title.
The first round was mostly back and forth, with Romero mostly using kicks while Whittaker went in with quick and timely jabs. Romero did score a take down two minutes in, but Whittaker was able to get out of it without much damage. Romero eventually focused on the left leg of Whittaker, which really started to affect Whittaker’s stance.
Romero used that injury at the start of Round 2 to control most of the round, scoring a takedown and eventually dominating a lot of the clinch against the cage. Ref John McCarthy eventually reset the two in the middle, where Whittaker took his shot with a couple of big swings before Romero got him back against the cage and scored a quick takedown right at the end of the round.
Round 3 is where things got interesting, as Whittaker was finally able to get in some offense. Whittaker may have stunned Romero with a kick earlier, as Romero went into full defense for almost the entire round and was rarely even trying to throw strikes.
Romero came out with more life in Round 4, eventually getting control of the clinch against the cage. However, once Whittaker got away, he was able to control the round with multiple strikes, including a couple of big strikes that stunned Romero again.
Both fighters came out in Round 5 throwing their best shots hoping to score a finish. Whittaker was eventually able to gain a bit of an advantage with some well-timed front kicks. After over three minutes in, Romero slipped to the ground, and Whittaker was able to get the mount to control most of the rest of the round. The performance in the final round is what likely gave Whittaker the win.
Whittaker is now set up to face middleweight champion Michael Bisping in the future to unify the two titles.