LAS VEGAS — UFC 213 took a shocking turn just hours before Saturday night’s fights were scheduled to start at T-Mobile Arena, with the news that bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes was too sick to fight Valentina Shevchenko in the main event.
That forced the UFC to revamp the card at the last minute, with Yoel Romero’s interim middleweight championship fight against Robert Whittaker now the main event and Woburn, Mass.-based fighter Rob Font moved to the main card against Douglas Silva de Andrade.
NESN.com will be octagon-side at T-Mobile Arena, with updated results and notable highlights in this live tracker.
ROUND-BY-ROUND HIGHLIGHTS: YOEL ROMERO VS. ROBERT WHITTAKER
Robert Whittaker wins by unanimous decision, as all three judges score the fight 48-47, and he’s the new interim UFC middleweight champion. Next up: Michael Bisping for the unified title.
This is it — one more round for the interim middleweight title — and Whittaker starts striking Romero with kicks and then a knee. The fighters trade punches in the center of the octagon, and it’s obvious Romero is tired, as he wildly misses with a right.
Whittaker lands a push kick, then a right hand to Romero’s head, and Romero responds by catching Whittaker with a right of his own. Fatigue certainly is setting in with two minutes left in the fight, and each fighter looks for the strike that could end it.
Whittaker kicks Romero to the ground, then pounces on top of him for a mount. Romero attempts to catch Whittaker with a right, but Whittaker stays on top and plays ground and pound, before landing a vicious elbow to Romero’s face. Whittaker ends the fight on top of Romero, who’s completely gassed and likely is the loser.
The legwork continues, with varied success, then Whittaker catches Romero with a left, and starts combining punches with kicks. Whittaker keeps the pressure on, and sends Romero to the ground, as the crowd cheers, anticipating a finish to the fight.
Romero appears hurt and tired, but the horn sounds, and we’ll go to Round 5.
Whittaker appears to rebound one minute into the round with a flurry of punches, followed by a kick that almost floors Romero.
The fighters go to the center of the octagon, square up to each other, and then Whittaker strikes with a push kick that stings Romero. The leg game definitely is the game plan for these fighters.
Whittaker attempts another push kick and eats a Romero punch to his face for his troubles. Whittaker again tries a push kick, and Romero steps away from it. Both fighters simultaneously try a flying kick, but each doesn’t connect, and the horn sounds.
Both fighters spend time attempting kicks, obviously trying to weaken legs and rob their rival of their power base, and Romero might have been successful, according to light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier.
Romero gets Whittaker, who has a bloody nose, on the ground and stays there awhile, working Whittaker’s face with his fists and elbows. Whittaker eventually stands up and moves to the cage, where Romero follows and applies more pressure. The fighters hang by the cage before Romero takes down Whittaker just five seconds before the horn sounds.
Whittaker came out first …
… then Romero strolled to the octagon.
Alistair Overeem def. Fabricio Werdum by majority decision (28-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Curtis Blaydes def. Daniel Omielanczuk by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Anthony Pettis def. Jim Miller by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Rob Font def. Douglas Silva de Andrade by submission (4:36 into second round)
Aleksei Oleinik def. Travis Browne by submission, rear naked choke (3:44 into second round)
Chad Laprise def. Brian Camozzi by TKO (1:27 into third round)
Thiago Santos def. Gerald Meerschaert by TKO (2:04 into second round)
Belal Muhammad def. Jordan Mein by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
UFC FIGHT PASS EARLY PRELIMS
Cody Stamann def. Terrion Ware by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Trevin Giles def. James Bochnovic by KO (2:54 into second round)
Thumbnail photo via Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports Images