UFC 221 Preview: Romero vs Rockhold

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UFC 221 will be held at Perth Arena in Perth, Australia on Sunday 11th February (AEDT) and it is headlined by a Interim Middleweight Championship showdown between Yoel Romeo and Luke Rockhold.

It was hoped by Australian UFC fans that this card would play host to a UFC Middleweight Championship unification bout between Georges St-Pierre and Australian Robert Whittaker, but St-Pierre refused to commit to the event and Whittaker was later forced to withdraw the due to injury.

That leaves us with this bout between Romero and Rockhold and the winner will claim the Interim Middleweight Championship belt as well as a likely battle with Whittaker for the Undisputed UFC Middleweight Championship.

Mark Hunt will also make his return to the octagon when he takes on Curtis Blaydes, while the likes of Tai Tuivasa, Jake Matthews and Tyson Pedro will also be in action.

It is always exciting when the UFC heads to Australia and our complete UFC 221 tips can be found below.

UFC 221 Main Card Australian Time

Sunday 11th February 2pm AEDT

Main Event

Yoel Romero Vs Luke Rockhold

Interim UFC Middleweight Championship

It truly is a shame that we don’t get to see Australia’s first ever UFC Champion defend his belt on home soil however MMA fans will still be treated to a cracker of a fight between former Middleweight champion Luke Rockhold and the current number 1 Middleweight contender Yoel Romero.

The way the UFC’s ranking system works (most of the time) means the winner of this fight will be Interim Champion and take on Whittaker once he has recovered from his injury.

Yoel Romero is a beast. His nine fights in the UFc have resulted in only the one loss, 2 performances of the night, 3 fight of the nights and 1 KO of the night.

He is a very aggressive fighter and very well rounded in Mixed Martial Arts

Despite his background in wrestling he has won 6 of his 9 fights by Ko/TKO always seemingly with a smile on his face.

His only loss in the UFC was fighting for the Interim Belt against Whittaker where he lost a unanimous decision.

His opponent is the number 2 contender Rockhold who has knows what it’s like to be the champion of the division.

His TKO, fight of the night, victory over Chris Weidman at UFC 194 secured the belt but he relinquished it one fight later in a first round loss to Michael Bisping.

Rockhold’s last fight was a comprehensive victory against David Branch via KO/TKO in September last year.

Both fighters are extremely dangerous and well rounded fighters. Whether this fight is a stand up striking contest, fought in the clinch or ground, viewers are in for a treat.

The form around Luke Rockhold and his loss to Bisping doesn’t seem to hold him in good stead after the Brit lost his last two fights.

Yoel Romero was in control of the fight against Rob Whittaker and clearly won the first two rounds before the Aussie showed his grit and determination, despite a knee injury, to win the last 3.

I don’t think Romero will let this happen again or he may just stop the fight early.

Back Yoel Romero To Win by KO / TKO / Submission @ $2.70

Co-Main Event

Mark Hunt Vs Curtis Blaydes

Heavyweight Division

The Co-Main event of the evening comes via the Heavyweight division between two monsters looking to work their way up the rankings.

Mark Hunt is not only one of the divisions most experienced and devastating fighters of all time but he will be by far the best supported on the night.

The adopted Australian will relish in the opportunity to put on the show for everyone at the new Perth Arena and finish the fight early.

Curtis Blaydes is a relatively new comer to the UFC when compared to Hunt, having only fought 5 times.

His only loss came in his UFC debut against Francis Ngannou after the fight was stopped due to a cut under his eye.

Blaydes is one of the most exciting prospects in the heavyweight division and this is by far his toughest test to date as he takes on a UFC living legend.

Mark Hunt will stand up with the best of them but he has always struggled when up against someone that can take him to the ground.

I feel this may be case in this fight but either way be prepared for some fireworks.

Back Curtis Blaydes To Win @ $1.65

Main Card

Tai Tuivasa Vs Cyril Asker

Heavyweight Division

The end of this card is packed full of fighters on the heavier side of the scale and two big lads will go at it inside the Octagon here.

Tai Tuivasa signed a 4 fight contract with the UFC in Novemeber of 2016 but a knee injury kept him out of competition until November of last year.

Tuivasa could not have been more impressive in his UFC debut, winning the fight by KO with a vicious flying knee in the first round.

He is up against Frenchman Cyril Asker who has a 50% W/L record in the UFC from 4 fights.

He is a well rounded fighter who can fight standing up or take the fight to the ground and his last fight was won via a choke submission.

Tuivasa is a short price to get the job done in front of his home fans. He is much too short for such an inexperienced fighter at this level and I’m happy to stay out of this one and watch.

No Bet

Jake Matthews Vs Li Jingliang

Welterweight Division

This Welterweight fights sees Australian Jake Matthews up against Chinese fighter Li JingLiang.

Matthews has now had 8 fights in the UFC for 5 wins and three losses.

His latest fight was a split decision win over Bojan Velickovic in November last year.

Matthews is ever the professional and you can be sure that he will show up in fit condition and willing to put on a show for his home fans.

Li ‘The Leech’ JingLiang is currently on a 4 fight winning streak in the UFC including a Fight of the Night and Performance of the Night in his last two fights.

JingLiang is an explosive and unpredictable mixed martial artist who will be looking to improve his record and climb the rankings with a win.

He will not get it all his own way and Matthews will put up one hell of a fight but I think JingLiang is in store for greater things in the UFC and can get passed the Australian here.

Back Li Jingliang @ $1.50

Tyson Pedro Vs Saparbek Safarov

Light Heavyweight Division

Another Aussie lines up here in a Light Heavyweight fight against Russian Saparbek Safarov.

Pedro has had three fights in the UFcC with his only loss coming in his last fight via the judges against Ilir Latifi.

He won Performance of the Night at his UFC debut with a rear naked choke of Khalil Rountree

If he shows as much skill and courage as he has ink on his body he will go a long way to winning this fight.

He’s up against Safarov who’s fight against Adrien Mallebranche has to one of the fastest finishes of all time (See Youtube for vision).

His one and only fight in the UFC did not go to plan with a second round KO/TKO loss but it was given the Fight of the Night honours.

The Aussie can get the Main Card off with a win for the locals.

Back Tyson Pedro To Win @ $1.40

Preliminary Card

Damien Brown Vs Dong Hyun Kim

Lightweight Division

Rob Wilkinson Vs Israel Adesanya

Middleweight Division

Jeremy Kennedy Vs Alexander Volkanovski

Lightweight Division

Jussier Formiga Vs Ben Nguyen

Flyweight Division

Ross Pearson Vs Mizuto Hirota

Lightweight Division

Teruto Ishihara Vs Jose Alberto Quinonez

Lightweight Division

Luke Jumeau Vs Daichi Abe

Welterweight Division