Robert Whittaker vs. Yoel Romero rematch set as UFC 225 main event


Robert Whittaker, left, beat Yoel Romero, right, by unanimous decision for the interim middleweight title at UFC 213 in July 2017. (John Locher/AP)

Robert Whittaker and Yoel Romero put on a show for MMA fans back at UFC 213 in July and the pair is set for another five-round championship bout at UFC 225.

The UFC officially announced the anticipated middleweight rematch will headline the June 9 card at Chicago’s United Center.

Whittaker earned a tightly contested unanimous decision victory over Romero in their first meeting to take home the UFC’s interim 185-pound title. The UFC implemented an interim belt at the time because then-champion Michael Bisping had been inactive for more than eight months and had been preparing to defend his title against Georges St-Pierre.

Bisping lost his belt to St-Pierre when he was choked out at UFC 217 in November. St-Pierre, however, vacated the title in December and Whittaker was promoted to undisputed champion.

Whittaker (19-4) was scheduled to defend his title against Luke Rockhold in the UFC 221 headliner in February but withdrew a month out from the event after suffering several significant injuries in training. Romero (13–2) was named Whittaker’s replacement and knocked out Rockhold in the third round. Romero-Rockhold was supposed to be for yet another interim title but since Romero missed weight by 2.7 pounds his bout with Rockhold took place at a catchweight of 187.7 pounds and he did not earn the interim. He was also fined 30 per cent of his purse for missing weight but the win did cement him as the No. 1 contender in the division.

In addition to stopping Rockhold, Romero boasts knockout wins over former UFC champions Chris Weidman and Lyoto Machida.

Whittaker, meanwhile, has gone 7-0 since moving up to the 185-pound division in 2014 after competing at welterweight for the first five years of his career. He began his UFC tenure by winning The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes in 2012 and holds notable victories over Uriah Hall, Brad Tavares, Derek Brunson and Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, but hasn’t competed since his win over Romero.

UFC 225 is also expected to feature the return of former WWE star CM Punk as he looks for his first mixed martial arts victory.

Here’s a look at the five fights currently expected to take place on the card:

— Robert Whittaker vs. Yoel Romero
Claudia Gadelha vs. Carla Esparza
— Joseph Benavidez vs. Sergio Pettis
Alistair Overeem vs. Curtis Blaydes
— Rashad Evans vs. Anthony Smith

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