UFC 225: ‘The People’s Champ’ and the FOTY candidate

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Yoel Romero and Robert Whittaker
Yoel Romero (left) and Robert Whittaker Credit: Mike Sloan/Sherdog.com

Robert Whitaker narrowly escaped the United Center last Saturday night as he edged out Yoel Romero in a controversial split decision at UFC 225 in Chicago.

Two of the three judges may have scored the UFC 225 main event in the favor of the champ. However, the sold-out capacity crowd at the UC couldn’t have disagreed more.

As I sat and waited in anticipation with the 18,000 plus fans for Bruce Buffer to announce the victor, it immediately became clear. A revelation of sorts. This crowd was heavily partisan for the charismatic Cuban, an observation that eluded me leading up to the main event.

When the veteran voice of the octagon finally did announce the winner, he did so in competition with the chorus of boos raining down from the sold-out crowd.

Be that as it may, it goes into the record books as a win for Whitaker. It’s fair to point out, the Australian was going to leave the United Center with the middleweight strap regardless of the outcome. Luckily for the UFC, Whittaker winning adds some much-needed normalcy to a division in flux, and likely puts to rest any talk of a third fight between these two elite 185lb’ers, even if Romero feels he is the rightful champ.

“It’s my humble opinion that I didn’t lose,” Romero would say during his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan. The Cuban would echo that sentiment in the early morning hours as he would go live on social media from his hospital bed, “Tonight I don’t feel like I lost, I am the champ.”

“It’s like a movie, like Rocky Marciano,” Romero explained from the ER. “Today God stayed with me, I am the people’s champ.”

The ‘Soldier of God’ may feel he is the people’s champ. However, there is nothing tangible or nothing of substance that comes with that clever moniker, besides maybe some unpleasant memories.

For the record, I scored the fight a draw, 47 all. I thought the champ clearly won rounds one and two: 10/9. Romero easily won round three: 10/9. Then round four, the most difficult round to score: 10/9 for Whittaker. Based on the new unified rules, which were in effect last Saturday night in Chicago, I thought Romero did more than enough in round five to garner a 10/8 round. A draw.

So, what’s next for these two middleweight juggernauts? Well, the champ is going to need surgery to repair the broken hand that he sustained in the first round on Saturday night. As for Romero, Dana White hinted at the post fight presser that he would like to see the Cuban move up a weight class.

Having been lucky enough to witness UFC 225 in person, I can honestly say the entire night of fights lived up to the hype, and in many ways surpassed it.

The Chicago faithful waited a long time for the UFC to finally bring a show of this caliber to the Windy City, and although we didn’t get the main event title fight we thought we would get, a fight of the year candidate is not a bad consolation.

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