Yoel Romero (12-2) got an opportunity to win the UFC's interim middleweight title seven months ago when he lost to Australian Robert Whittaker via unanimous decision at UFC 213.
Now this Saturday in Perth, Romero will take advantage of Whittaker's withdrawal from the main event due to injury, this time battling Luke Rockhold (16-3) as a solid +130 underdog (bet $100 to win $130) at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.
Romero is still the No. 1-ranked middleweight contender behind the champion Whittaker, with Rockhold sitting at No. 2, according to the UFC. While Romero has not fought since his eight-fight winning streak was broken by Whittaker, Rockhold is listed as a -150 favorite following a submission win over David Branch at UFC Fight Night 116 last September in Pittsburgh. He has won six of his last seven bouts.
The lone setback for Rockhold over the past five years came versus Michael Bisping, who upset him for the middleweight championship belt with a shocking first-round knockout at UFC 199. Rockhold had won the title with a fourth-round TKO of Chris Weidman at UFC 194 to cap a five-fight winning streak before falling to Bisping.
In the co-main event, two dangerous heavyweights will square off, with Curtis Blaydes (8-1, 1 No-Contest) and Mark Hunt (13-11-1, 1 NC) combining for 17 knockouts among 21 wins between them. Blaydes has fought more recently than Hunt, scoring a second-round TKO of Oleksiy Oliynyk at UFC 217 last November 4 in New York City.
The 26-year-old from Chicago is a -170 favorite on the UFC 221 odds against his 43-year-old opponent. The only loss of Blaydes' career came versus Francis Ngannou at UFC Fight Night 86.
Hunt is a local favorite out of New Zealand and got a fourth-round TKO of Derrick Lewis in his hometown of Auckland at UFC Fight Night 110 last June 11. He is a +140 underdog here and had lost his previous bout to Alistair Overeem by third-round KO at UFC 209 a little less than a year ago.
Before that loss to Overeem, Hunt went 2-0 with two first-round knockouts of Antonio Silva and Frank Mir followed by a NC that was originally a UD loss to Brock Lesnar at UFC 200 before being overturned because his opponent tested positive for a banned substance. Seven of Hunt's losses took place in his first 12 fights, including three in the PRIDE promotion and two in DREAM.
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