UFC 213 just went down from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, the centerpiece for the UFC’s International Fight Week. And just like past events held over that week, there was a fair amount of drama leading up to it that resulted in several fights dropping out. The original 213 roster was pretty stacked. The final product hinged on one last fight. Thank God it was a good one and paid off.
The Interim Main Event
The interim middleweight title fight between Yoel Romero and Robert Whittaker was just as intense as everyone had hoped it would be. It was a worthy consolation main event that had action and violence and saw Robert Whittaker claw his way back from two very bad early rounds to earn a unanimous decision 48-47 on all three scorecards. It really wasn’t looking good for Whittaker … Romero was an explosive ball of muscle and every sudden twitch saw him landing kicks to the knee that hobbled the New Zealand born fighter or flying knees that seemed an inch away from a potential KO finish.
— UFC (@ufc) July 9, 2017
Fortunately for Robert, all that muscle requires a ton of oxygen and by the third round Yoel was spent. Whittaker got to work and showed all the skill and heart that has gotten the young up-and-comer to this point to take the next three rounds. Whittaker won, and in a way so did currently sidelined champion Michael Bisping. He no longer has to fight Yoel Romero, and while Robert Whittaker is no slouch, he does represent a different kind of challenger less likely to rip through the bomb-adverse Brit in a minute flat.
Plus there’s always the possibility that Whittaker’s knee is more jacked up than we know from all of Yoel’s kicks. I’m sure Bisping and Georges St-Pierre will be waiting to hear from Whittaker’s camp in the days to come exactly what the damage is there.
The Main Event That Wasn’t
And then there’s the main event that didn’t happen, and all the drama surrounding it after its removal from the card. While it’s disturbing to hear claims that Amanda Nunes refused to fight despite doctors clearing her to fight, it’s worth noting the UFC has a bad history of throwing its athletes under the bus in situations like this. Dana White accused Jose Aldo of faking a foot injury, claimed the Khabib vs. Ferguson fight could have been saved if Khabib hadn’t ‘gone rogue’, and has generally never seen a late pull out he wasn’t willing to bury someone over. So I’m hesitant to jump on the Nunes hate wagon.
Sorry to all my true fans. The fight will be rescheduled and I will be back at 100%. Essa luta vai ser remarcada e estarei 100% pic.twitter.com/8WEttqMUgM
— Amanda Nunes (@Amanda_Leoa) July 9, 2017
That being said, I’m hoping Amanda has a pretty good explanation for what happened. Just for comparison, Aspen Ladd had to withdraw from The Ultimate Fighter: “Redemption” Finale at the last second due to her own illness. Soon afterwards, her coaches gave some pretty convincing details as to exactly how unwell she was to justify the situation.
“Around 5am she woke up throwing up and suffering from bad intestinal issues,” corner Jim West wrote on Instagram. “Mind you Aspen went to bed the night of weigh ins at 153 and around 1030am the day of the fight was 144. She lost everything from intestinal issues to throwing up. The UFC was contacted at 7am in the morning the day of the fight but Aspen of course wanted to fight.”
“We arrived at the arena around 1pm. At that time Aspen had a pre-fight physical with the Doctor. During vitals her blood pressure was critically low at which time she passed out cold. The UFC physician at that time medically cancelled the fight. At that time Aspen was transported via ambulance to the emergency room where she stayed until 11pm that night. Her magnesium, phosphorous and calcium levels were deemed critical and the ER doctors were concerned. Doctors confirmed it was some type of intestinal bug and had zero to do with any weight cut.”
If Nunes was technically healthy but just feeling physically zonked from her weight cut, the whole thing becomes rather tricky. As Shevchenko said, Nunes chose to try and cut from a higher weight to gain an advantage in the cage. How fair is it to pull out of a fight because they screwed the cut up and it became a disadvantage? You obviously don’t want to force physically impaired fighters into the cage, but at what point do we say a fighter needs to take responsibility for a bad cut and face the music?
Undisputed Troll Champion
Have we ever had a troll of a champion better than Michael Bisping? People continue to accuse him of being one of the weakest middleweight title holders in recent history, and he seems perfectly willing to throw that disrespect right back in the face of anyone he interacts with, be it Yoel Romero or Georges St-Pierre or Robert Whittaker. At UFC 213 he was in fine form, ripping up a Cuban flag in between rounds to aggravate Romero:
And then dismissing Whittaker’s interim belt:
It’s too bad the guy has been injured for so long and isn’t likely to hold onto the belt once he’s back to active competition, because I could watch his hijinx for another couple of years.