Whit­taker stuns foe

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT -

ROBERT Whit­taker won the UFC in­terim mid­dleweight ti­tle yes­ter­day, surg­ing in the late rounds to earn a unan­i­mous de­ci­sion over Yoel Romero at UFC 213.

Whit­taker ( 20- 4) re­cov­ered from a hy­per­ex­tended knee in the first round with a strong strik­ing per­for­mance, pep­per­ing Romero ( 12- 2) with punches and kicks over the fi­nal three rounds.

The Aus­tralian won his eighth con­sec­u­tive fight, earn­ing the vic­tory 48- 47 on all three judges’ score­cards at TMo­bile Arena.

“It’s a mo­ment I’ve al­ways dreamed of,” Whit­taker said.

“My knee was def­i­nitely hurt. I in­jured it in camp, and Romero’s kick set it back weeks. I know that Romero will cap­i­talise on any weak­ness he sees, so I had to play it off.”

The main event of the UFC’s tra­di­tional July show­case was can­celled ear­lier in the day when ban­tamweight cham­pion Amanda Nunes was hos­pi­talised.

She was scratched from her sec­ond ti­tle de­fence against Valentina Shevchenko, who crit­i­cised the cham­pion’s prepa­ra­tion for the bout.

Alis­tair Overeem beat Fabri­cio Wer­dum by nar­row ma- jor­ity de­ci­sion in the third ca­reer meet­ing of two vet­eran heavy­weights.

For­mer light­weight cham­pion An­thony Pet­tis also re­turned to the di­vi­sion with a unan­i­mous de­ci­sion vic­tory over Jim Miller in the fi­nal show of In­ter­na­tional Fight Week, the an­nual mixed mar­tial arts cel­e­bra­tion in the UFC’s home­town.

Whit­taker’s win earned him the chance to fight for the full 185- pound ti­tle held for the past year by Michael Bisp­ing, who is in­jured.

The 40- year- old Romero was gra­cious af­ter his eight­fight win­ning streak ended, prais­ing his op­po­nent.

Romero’s ag­gres­sion kept Whit­taker on the de­fen­sive for the first two rounds, but Whit­taker landed sev­eral im­pres­sive strikes. Whit­taker in­creased his strik­ing while Romero sat back in the third and fourth, with Whit­taker also de­fend­ing Romero’s take- downs adroitly.

Romero was cut on his left eye­brow and the right side of his scalp, while Whit­taker had a bloody nose and mouth in the fi­nal round.

Romero slipped onto his back with 90 sec­onds left and Whit­taker jumped on top to rain down blows.

PROUDROUD MO­MENT MO­MENT: A Aus­tralian fighter Robert Whit­taker is an­nounced as the UFC in­terim mid­dleweight cham­pion in Las Ve­gas Ne­vada ( main) and Whit­taker kicks Yoel Romero ( in­set).

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