Robert Whittaker won’t have his undisputed UFC middleweight title on the line on Saturday when he takes on Yoel Romero. The Cuban missed weight, so the fight will be a non-title event.
Whittaker is listed as a minus-260 favourite on the UFC 225 odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
He ascended to the undisputed middleweight championship after claiming the interim belt with a five-round unanimous decision victory over Romero as a minus-125 chalk at UFC 213 that extended his win streak to eight fights going into Saturday night’s matchup at the United Center in Chicago.
The 27-year-old’s lengthy 11-month absence from the octagon resulted from a knee injury that sidelined him for the second half of 2017, and a subsequent staph infection that proved serious enough to force him to withdraw from a scheduled title clash with former champion Luke Rockhold at UFC 221.
Now fully healthy, Whittaker will be aiming to lift his professional MMA record to 20-4 with a second straight victory over Romero, the No. 1 contender in the UFC middleweight division.
The Australian has finished opponents on four occasions during his win streak, and has earned Performance of the Night bonuses with each of his past three knockout wins, including a second-round TKO of Ronaldo Souza as a plus-225 bet at UFC on Fox 24.
Romero enters the octagon as a plus-200 underdog on Saturday. After falling to Whittaker last July, ‘Soldier of God’ stepped up in place of the injured Whittaker to battle Rockhold for the interim title at UFC 221. Romero earned a third-round KO victory as a plus-150 underdog, but was deemed ineligible to claim the belt after failing to make weight.
The 41-year-old Cuban’s recent struggles come on the heels of an eight-fight win streak that began with an impressive opening-round KO of Clifford Starks in his promotional debut at UFC on Fox 7 in January 2013. His run also featured six knockout victories and four bonuses, including the Performance of the Night following his third-round KO of former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman that paid out on plus-175 odds at UFC 205.
The co-main event of the card features a battle for the UFC interim welterweight championship, with No. 3 contender Colby Covington battling No. 2 Rafael dos Anjos as a narrow betting favourite.
As well, former WWE superstar CM Punk makes his first octagon appearance in almost two years as he takes on fellow welterweight Mike Jackson as a plus-175 underdog, while Holly Holm vies for a second win in six fights as she takes on Megan Anderson as a minus-225 favourite in a clash of women’s featherweights.