Last weekend, UFC 221 featured an interim title fight at middleweight between top contenders Luke Rockhold and Yoel Romero. However, the main event in Perth, Australia ended up creating more questions than it answered after Romero won via second-round knockout.
The day before, the Cuban Olympian had missed weight, therefore disqualifying himself from winning the actual interim title. Still, he stands as the most logical choice to face recovering champion Robert Whittaker next. That is if you count out Ronaldo “Jacaré” Souza.
The current number two in the UFC’s official middleweight ranking, Souza is placed only behind Romero and title holder Robert Whittaker. And while Romero now might get his rematch with the champion, who beat him last July, earlier than Souza, who lost to Whittaker last April, the Brazilian took the time to criticize his former opponent for missing weight ahead of his last fight. Romero beat Souza by split decision in December 2015.
“He didn’t make the weight because he didn’t want to”, Souza told AG. Fight. “I’m a fighter and I know. If you looked at Rockhold, you could see that he suffered a lot to make the weight. He had to hit the mark. A man of Romero’s size can be called two weeks before a fight and make weight. Romero said he was going to the sauna to make the weight, but he wasn’t.”
With his statements, Souza joined the consensus among fighters who have commented on the matter. After all, title fights don’t even allow the usual one-pound leeway. Knowing that, “Jacaré” believes that Romero rehydrated earlier than he should have to gain an advantage while Rockhold took on the severe suffering that the last few pounds shortly before weighing in bring.
“I’m sure Luke would give away all the money of his purse if he could weigh five pounds more in a fight where the belt is on the line”, Souza said. “If he won, he would be fighting the champion anyway. If I put myself in Luke’s shoes, I’d be frustrated.”
While it is necessary to note that Romero accepted the fight at UFC 221 as a late replacement for injured champion Robert Whittaker, Souza believes that Romero had enough time to make sure he wouldn’t miss weight.
“I have no friendship with [either Romero or Rockhold], but I put myself in Rockhold’s place and I was annoyed”, Souza declared. “Luke was dry, and he’s very tall and strong for this division. [Romero] didn’t make the weight because he didn’t want to. You could look and see that he was fit. Luke was dazed after losing so much weight. He was giving an interview and he looked very bad, he looked broken.”