Anybody lamenting the UFC middleweight division’s perpetual state of disarray can level the finger at Luke Rockhold.

In fact, the ex-champ is not any soothsayer and could not have predicted the 20-month-long debacle that will ensue when Michael Bisping’s left hook dethroned him within the first spherical at UFC 199. However to listen to him repeat it throughout these tumultuous instances, Rockhold probably would have maintained order and brought on all deserving comers versus angling for a blockbuster bout with profession welterweight Georges St-Pierre had he gotten his hand raised on that damned June night time.

The Strikeforce alum will now take a vital step towards restoring some semblance of normalcy throughout the title image when he meets Yoel Romero for an interim crown in the principle occasion of Saturday’s UFC 221 in Perth, Australia. Rockhold – a longtime AKA man who’s been coaching with Henri Hooft only a stone’s throw from Romero’s American Prime Group in Florida – had earned a shot at Robert Whittaker’s undisputed title with a September stoppage of David Department, solely to be tasked with Romero when Whittaker withdrew on account of a smorgasbord of afflictions final month.

(Picture courtesy: Motion Pictures)

For the ageless surprise that’s Romero, not solely does Saturday’s headliner mark his sophomore shot at UFC gold, but in addition the closest factor to a assure of a rematch with Whittaker – who gutted out a deserved resolution over him to win the interim title at UFC 213 earlier than GSP’s sudden bout with ulcerative colitis received him promoted to reigning king late final 12 months.

The 40-year-old Cuban had knocked off eight straight dance companions – six by knockout – to safe the July championship bout, besting the likes of Tim Kennedy, Lyoto Machida, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, and former divisional champion Chris Weidman. He’ll now look to deal with Rockhold to an an identical destiny for an opportunity to proper his promotional report’s sole blemish whereas Father Time nonetheless has his sights set elsewhere.

Hunt’s third act begins

(Picture courtesy: Getty Pictures)

Talking of Father Time, he and Mark Hunt are simply getting acquainted.

At 43, and with three fights left on a UFC contract he has no intention of extending, the fan favourite plans on optimizing the twilight of his promotional stint and difficult for a heavyweight title earlier than he takes his granite mitts to a different struggle manufacturing facility. Hunt’s designs will start with Saturday’s co-main occasion reverse a rising prospect in Curtis Blaydes – a matchup promptly booked after Hunt obtained a clear invoice of well being in response to his abrupt yanking from November’s UFC Struggle Night time 121.

The 26-year-old Blaydes has quietly mounted a three-fight win streak to earn arguably his stiffest check but, with stoppages of Cody East and Aleksei Oleinik sandwiching a call over Daniel Omielanczuk at UFC 213. Boasting a collegiate wrestling background, he’ll take the cage for a veritable conflict of kinds reverse a former Ok-1 Grand Prix kickboxing champion in Hunt on Saturday.

“The Model Bender” goals to impress in his UFC debut

One look at Israel “The Model Bender” Adesanya’s spotlight reel ought to reply any questions relating to his signing.

The undefeated middleweight prospect – one of many invoice’s 11 skills both bred or primarily based within the Oceanic area – has made it his mandate to dazzle in each stroll to each the ring and the cage, profitable all 11 of his MMA bouts by knockout and compiling a gaudy kickboxing report of 65-5-2. He’ll take the Octagon for the primary time to tangle with Aussie Rob Wilkinson in Saturday’s prelims.

In his pair of 2017 bouts, the Nigerian-born, New Zealand-based Adesanya trounced UFC alum Melvin Guillard and despatched poor Stuart Dare to the shadow realm with a surprising question-mark kick on the Australian circuit. He’ll purpose to render Wilkinson winless in two fights underneath the UFC banner, because the Aussie beforehand fell to Siyar Bahadurzada by second-round TKO in his September promotional debut.

Associated – UFC 221 predictions: Can Romero make good on his 2nd shot at gold?

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