Already ranked as the division's number-one contender, Romero's victory is likely to see him installed as the next challenger for the UFC middleweight title, held by Australian Robert Whittaker, who recorded a unanimous decision victory over the Cuban in July previous year. The 40-year-old missed the 185-pound weight limit by 2.7 pounds on Friday (Feb. 9), which means he was ineligible to claim a title, despite a victory. After splitting the first two frames on most scorecards, Romero eliminate the need for the judges in the third, icing Rockhold with two flawless shots that left him slumped over and sleep along the fence.
Romero (12-2) is coming off a decision loss to Whittaker last July for his first defeat in six years.
The preliminary fights will get underway at 11:30pm BST on Saturday night. This streak is highlighted by wins over Brad Tavares, Uriah Hall, Rafael Natal, Derek Brunson, "Jacare", and of course, Romero. No question. It's going to be interesting to see what comes next for Rockhold.
Now, Romero, when his leg heals, will get another shot at champion Robert "The Reaper" Whittaker.
In this fight, Romero will need to conserve his energy.
"Rockhold is a very good athlete and an awesome fighter", Romero said after the fight.
Rockhold appears to be in good spirits, though, who took to social media to congratulate the victor.
Romero had the breakthrough moment when he jumped forward with a big right followed by a huge left that sent Rockhold crushing to the canvas, before a left hand on the floor left Rockhold, cold.
Rockhold showed great offensive striking and pivoted away from Romero's hooks masterfully in Round 1. Although these weren't massive fights for the mainstream audience or perhaps even some hardcore fans, this is exactly why these three were on the main card.
Had Romero made weight, I would have likely leaned toward him. Meanwhile, Rockhold will be looking to wear Romero out and finish this one in impressive fashion.