In a display of true grit and uncomparable heart, Robert Whittaker sneaked by Yoel Romero via a split decision despite being dropped twice.
While UFC 225’s main event may have been a non-title affair following Yoel Romero’s failure to make weight, both men fought just like the gold was on the line.
For every stinging jab and kick that Whittaker threw, Romero seemingly waded through the damage undeterred and biding his time for his openings.
With Whittaker taking the first two rounds, Romero burst into life in trademark fashion as a big right hook found the champion’s chin and put him to the floor. With Romero piling on the pressure, Whittaker still found elbows in close to see himself through to the fourth round.
The Australian would battle back in the fourth round despite a late wobble but Romero looked to finish the bout in the fifth and final stanza.
Looking close to stopping the fight, Whittaker turtled up between Romero’s legs in search of a takedown and found the will to stand-up to his feet and see out the final bell.
With none of the judges scoring the fifth a 10-8 for the Cuban fighter, Whittaker earned a split decision and has now beaten the dangerous 41-year-old in both of their meetings.
Meanwhile, in the co-main event, Colby Covington proved that he was more than all talk as his pressuring, takedown-heavy game earned him the interim welterweight title against Rafael dos Anjos.
Robert Whittaker def. Yoel Romero via split decision (47-48, 48-47, 48-47)
Colby Covington def. Rafael dos Anjos via unanimous decision (49-46, 48-47, 48-47)
Holly Holm def. Megan Anderson via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-26)
Tai Tuivasa def. Andre Arlovski via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Mike Jackson def. CM Punk via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-26)
Curtis Blaydes def. Alistair Overeem via TKO (Round 3, 2:56)
Carla Esparza def. Claudia Gadelha via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
Mirsad Bektic def. Ricardo Lamas via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
Chris De La Rocha def. Rashad Coulter via TKO (Round 2, 3:53)
Anthony Smith def. Rashad Evans via KO (Round 1, 0:53)
Sergio Pettis def. Joseph Benavidez via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 30-27)
Charles Oliveira def. Clay Guida via submission (guillotine choke) (Round 1, 2:18)
Dan Ige def. Mike Santiago via TKO (Round 1, 0:50)