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11th Feb 2018

Yoel Romero brutally knocks out Luke Rockhold before kissing him in bizarre consolation effort

Ben Kiely

Yoel Romero

No interim champion was crowned at UFC 221 as Yoel Romero scored a stunning knockout in the main event.

The UFC 221 headliner between Yoel Romero and Luke Rockhold didn’t disappoint. The first round was a slow affair with Rockhold just edging it with his kickboxing prowess. Although a checked kick left the American’s leg trickling blood for the duration of the fight.

Not content with dropping the round, Romero immediately made a statement in the second. He sprinted towards Rockhold after buzzer, hurting him with a barrage of punches. He backed Rockhold to the fence and let his hands fly with powerful shots to the body and head.

Before the end of the third round, it was all over. The fight-ending sequence kicked off with typical explosive power from the former Olympic wrestler. He pumped with two jabs before dropping Rockhold with a thunderous left hook. After Rockhold slumped to the ground like a sack of sand, he finished the job with a vicious uppercut. The referee stepped in at the 1:48 mark to award ‘Soldier of God’ the knockout victory.

Immediately after the win, Romero sprinted to the other side of the cage and climbed on top to celebrate the victory. He then jumped down and ran over to console Rockhold. After pecking him on the cheek, ‘the Cuban’ tried to comfort Rockhold with a bizarre religious speech.

“I love you Luke. Look at me. I love you. Tell me you love me back. Tell me. Tell me right now. I love you. God wants you to tell me back.”

Rockhold was dazed, disorientated and didn’t look like he appreciated Romero’s gesture at all.

This fight was originally booked as an interim middleweight title fight. However, Romero (13-2) did not win the strap because he missed weight. In his Octagon interview with John Anik, he apologised for coming in heavy. He sat on the ground during the interview after enduring a shin injury in the fight.

“I want to say I am so sorry for cutting weight is so bad for me. That is the first time in my career it shut my body down.”

That marked Romero’s ninth third round finish and looks to have secured a title shot rematch against Robert Whittaker.

Not bad for a man who’s turning 41 this year.