In the main event of UFC 221, Yoel Romero set himself up for a future title shot with a brutal third-round knockout win over Luke Rockhold. If Rockhold had won, he would've claimed the UFC interim middleweight championship. Romero failed to weigh in at the middleweight limit, so he was ineligible to win the title.
Romero got off to a slow start as Rockhold used kicks to control the distance early on. But Romero found his range in Round 2, blitzing Rockhold and landing some hard shots. He kept the pressure on in the third round and then landed a huge left hand that floored Rockhold. Romero landed another hard shot on the ground that put Rockhold away for good. After the fight, it was apparent that Romero suffered a leg injury. Despite not winning the interim title, ESPN reports that UFC president Dana White said Romero will still face middleweight champion Robert Whittaker in his next fight.
In the co-main event, rising heavyweight prospect Curtis Blaydes overcame two knockdowns in the first round to earn a unanimous decision win. After surviving Hunt's best shots, Blaydes smartly wrestled the 43-year-old Hunt the rest of the way with nine takedowns to earn the victory. Blaydes is now 9-1 (1 NC) with his only career loss coming against Francis Ngannou.
Full results from the event can be found below:
- Yoel Romero def. Luke Rockhold via knockout (punches) at 1:48 of Round 3
- Curtis Blaydes def. Mark Hunt via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 29-27)
- Tai Tuivasa def. Cyril Asker via TKO (strikes) at 2:18 of Round 1
- Jake Matthews def. Li Jingliang via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-26, 30-26)
- Tyson Pedro def. Saparbek Safarov via submission (kimura) at 3:54 of Round 1
- "Maestro" Dong Hyun Kim def. Damien Brown via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- Israel Adesanya def. Rob Wilkinson via TKO (strikes) at 3:37 of Round 2
- Alex Volkanovski def. Jeremy Kennedy via TKO (strikes) at 4:57 of Round 2
- Jussier Formiga def. Ben Nguyen via technical submission (rear-naked choke) at 1:43 of Round 3
- Ross Pearson def. Mizuto Hirota via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Jose Quinonez def. Teruto Ishihara via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
- Luke Jumeau def. Daichi Abe via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 28-27)