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UFC 221: Romero vs. Rockhold Live Updates and Coverage

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Luke Rockhold vs. Yoel Romero in a middleweight bout headlines the UFC 221 pay-per-view card from Perth, Australia. Rockhold is eligible to win a UFC interim middleweight title if he wins while Romero is not eligible after failing to make weight for the bout. The co-feature pits popular Oceania native Mark Hunt against Curtis Blaydes. We will bring you all the results starting at 3:30 PM Pacific Time.

Luke Rockhold vs. Yoel Romero live round-by-round coverage

This was originally supposed to be a homecoming title defense for UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker. Unfortunately, Whittaker had to pull out following a severe staph infection and now Romero and Rockhold will compete in the main event. Rockhold can earn the distinction of interim champion if he wins but Romero missed weight and cannot. Rockhold and Romero have different strengths and weaknesses. Rockhold is a submission grappler and loves kicks on the feet while Romero has an Olympic wrestling background and is a knockout artist on the feet.

Round 1. Rockhold opens with some low kicks. Romero mostly just observes and defends. Rockhold’s shin is cut from Romero checking a kick. Rockhold lands a nice straight right hand. Rockhold continues to attack the lead leg of Romero. Romero throws a couple leg kicks of his own and Rockhold moves back awkwardly. Romero then starts throwing some power punches at the head. Rockhold continues to attack Romero’s leg with kicks. That has been the most common weapon of the fight. 10-9 Rockhold.

Round 2. Romero charges in with punches. He rocks Rockhold and looks for the finish. Romero throws a series of looping punches by the cage and connects with some hard shots. Romero backs off and slows down, but explodes with some punches moments later that also do some damage. Rockhold has a weird growth on the side of his forehead from Romero’s punches. After another delay, Romero charges in again with heavy punches. It feels like he has connected solidly at least a time or two in each of his charges. Rockhold connects with a strong jab and continues to mix in his leg kicks. Rockhold follows with a few more jabs. 10-9 Romero.

Round 3. Rockhold throws some jabs to keep Romero at bay. Romero attacks the body with some punches. Romero drops Rockhold with a left hand and then knocks him unconscious with a followup.

Winner: Yoel Romero, KO, round 3.

That was an absolutely brutal finish. Romero has so much power and explosiveness. Romero had trouble standing afterwards, his leg apparently damaged badly by Rockhold’s kicks. This would appear to set up a rematch between Romero and Robert Whittaker for the UFC middleweight title.

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Mark Hunt vs. Curtis Blaydes live round-by-round coverage

Mark Hunt is one of MMA’s most unique characters. The “Super Samoan” K-1, Pride and UFC superstar is known for his granite chin and massive knockout power. He has been involved in many classic bouts over the years. This is his first fight since a big public blowup with the UFC last year. Hunt wrote with the assistance of a ghostwriter an article detailing mental issues from years of head damage and UFC responded by pulling him from his scheduled fight. An infuriated Hunt raged at the organization but has been brought back after passing required tests. Hunt will take on 26-year-old Curtis Blaydes who has generally been successful in the UFC and is 8-1 (1 no contest) in MMA.

Round 1. The taller and longer Blaydes throws a few jabs and leg kicks while Hunt looks to measure him and get a sense for the range. Blaydes gets a takedown two minutes in but Hunt stands right back up. Hunt wobbles Blaydes with a punch and moves in looking for the kill. Hunt lands some big punches and appears on the verge of a stoppage or brutal knockout but Blaydes somehow is able to clinch and get a takedown. Blaydes is bleeding. Hunt tries to get up but Blaydes throws Hunt back down. Blaydes lands repeated punches on the ground and is working hard. Blaydes mounts and takes the back as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Hunt.

Round 2. Blaydes comes out throwing, despite the way the first round went. Hunt is being careful, likely knowing Blaydes is looking for an opportunity to attempt a takedown. Blaydes gets a takedown halfway through the round. Blaydes is less active on top than he was in the first round. He lands some punches but largely is content to hold Hunt down. Blaydes lands his hardest punches in the last 20 seconds of the round. 10-9 Blaydes.

Round 3. Blaydes gets a takedown at the start of the round. Hunt gets up but Blaydes slams him back down. Blaydes then takes full mount position. Blaydes lands punches from the top. Hunt gets half guard position but Blaydes continues working him over on the ground. Hunt gets up but is slammed back down. Hunt gets up again but again he is taken down. Hunt once more stands up but again Blaydes returns him to the mat and lands some punches there. Hunt gets up one final time but is suplexed back down. 10-9 Blaydes, 29-28 Blaydes.

Winner: Curtis Blaydes, unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 29-27).

Curtis Blaydes did what he needed there to get the win. He exploited Hunt’s weaknesses and picked up a significant win over a name opponent. He likely didn’t win a lot of fans but Mark Hunt is not the opponent to disregard strategy for.

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Tai Tuivasa vs. Cyril Asker live round-by-round coverage

Tai Tuivasa is an undefeated Australian at 6-0 with all first round stoppages. Cyril Asker is a French fighter who is 2-2 thus far in the UFC.

Round 1. Tuivasa lands an uppercut early. Tuivasa connects with a hook a little while later. Tuivasa staggers Asker with a punch and follows with additional punches by the cage. Tuivasa uses a heavy elbow and attacks the body with punches. He then goes upstairs with punches and Asker looks in bad shape. Asker is bleeding and he collapses after being shoved backward.

Winner: Tai Tuivasa, TKO, round 1.

It remains to be seen what upside Tai Tuivasa has as a fighter but he is fun to watch. He throws with tremendous power and is content to brawl. He’s likely to be involved in some very memorable bouts before he is done.

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Jake Matthews vs. Li Jingliang live round-by-round coverage

Jake Matthews is a still 23-year-old Australian prospect who already has eight fights in the UFC. He was considered a top flight prospect at one time but a 5-3 Octagon record has tempered that enthusiasm in many corners. Li Jingliang is one of the most successful Chinese fighters and has four straight UFC victories.

Round 1. Matthews lands a few heavy punches early on that give Jingliang difficulty. Jingliang to his credit keeps pressing forward. Jingliang lands a solid punch and moves in aggressively but he gets caught with a counter that drops him. Matthews follows Jingliang to the ground and quickly takes full mount. Jingliang turns his back and Matthews looks to lock in a rear naked choke. Jingliang is able to survive to the end. 10-8 Matthews.

Round 2. Jingliang catches Matthews with an uppercut. Matthews grabs a guillotine choke but Jingliang escapes it by gouging Matthews right in the eye. Matthews is bleeding from the eye but doesn’t protest the egregious foul. The fighters trade punches by the cage with each looking to land a finishing blow. Jingliang lands some hard punches late and Matthews just fires back and challenges him to throw more. 10-9 Matthews.

Round 3. The fighters slow down in the third. Matthews drops Jingliang with a punch. Jingliang quickly reverses to take top position, at which point Matthews works back to his feet. They grapple for position there before separating. Matthews gets one last takedown late but Jingliang stands up. 10-9 Matthews, 30-26 Matthews.

Winner: Jake Matthews, unanimous decision (29-28, 30-26, 30-26).

Jake Matthews has had his ups and downs in the UFC but that was one of his best performances. He showed excellent technique, composure and power. The big talking point coming out of this fight, unfortunately, is likely to be the gruesome foul by Jingliang. It was one of the most visually disturbing fouls in the history of the UFC and Jingliang could be facing severe discipline for it depending on what conclusions are drawn about his intent.

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Saparbek Safarov vs. Tyson Pedro live round-by-round coverage

Saparbek Safarov is one of the many successful Dagestani fighters in MMA. He went into the UFC undefeated but lost his debut to Gian Villante. Tyson Pedro likewise was undefeated before suffering a loss in his last bout. He is fighting at home in Australia.

Round 1. Pedro lands a hard leg kick and Safarov takes him down. Pedro stands quickly and lands another hard leg kick. Pedro connects with a hard right punch and then lands another. He appears to have Safarov in a bit of trouble but Safarov recovers well. Safarov looks for a takedown again. Pedro grabs a kimura, flips Safarov over and gets the submission.

Winner: Tyson Pedro, submission, round 1.

That was a beautiful submission by Pedro, pleasing his hometown fans in a fight he was already winning in the standup.

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Damien Brown vs. Dong Hyun Kim live round-by-round coverage

Damien Brown is a 17-11 veteran with two straight losses. Dong Hyun Kim, the lesser known of the two South Korean fighters named Dong Hyun Kim, has won two straight.

Round 1. The fight starts out slow, with Brown approaching and Kim looking to make him pay with jabs. Brown knocks Kim down with a powerful leg kick. Brown lands another hard leg kick shortly thereafter, sensing a vulnerability. Kim lands a head kick and Brown answers with a nice uppercut. Brown is the more compact fighter but appears to have more power behind his blows. Close round; Kim landed more but Brown landed harder. 10-9 Kim.

Round 2. Both fighters come out throwing frequent leg kicks in the second round. Kim is the much more active fighter and Brown is having trouble getting off. Kim is using more of his boxing. Kim appears to be pulling away at this point in what has been a lackluster fight. 10-9 Kim.

Round 3. Brown comes out with a couple of kicks attacking the body and head. Brown then lands a few punches up high. Brown appears to recognize he needs to change the tenor of the fight. Kim throws some jabs but doesn’t have a lot of urgency in his own right. Brown connects with a nice right hand late. Brown adds a hard leg kick. 10-9 Brown, 29-28 Kim.

Winner: Dong Hyun Kim, split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28).

That wasn’t quite the all action showcase UFC expected when they put these two fights in a prime TV position.

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Israel Adesanya vs. Rob Wilkinson live round-by-round coverage

Israel Adesanya is a kickboxer with an 11-0 MMA record and 11 knockouts. Rob Wilkinson was 11-0 himself headed into his UFC debut but he lost that fight and is now seeking to rebound at 11-1.

Round 1. As Adesanya lands a kick, Wilkinson goes for a takedown. After a long struggle, Wilkinson gets it. However, Adesanya immediately gets right back up and they return to jockeying for position in the clinch. Wilkinson can’t get it and has to give up the attempt. After a little bit at range, Wilkinson goes back to the clinch. Wilkinson briefly gets Adesanya down but Adesanya stands right back up. The judges will give that to Wilkinson for sure but fighters shouldn’t be rewarded for instigating extended stalemates. 10-10.

Round 2. Adesanya misses with a kick. He lands a nice jab. Adesanya attacks the body with a hard punch. Adesanya blocks a takedown. Adesanya lands a couple blows to the body and a knee to the head. Wilkinson looks for the takedown. Adesanya defends and lands another hard knee. Adesanya opens up with an extended combination, attacking the body and head. Wilkinson’s nose is busted up and he’s just a punching bag. Adesanya gestures that was a so-so performance.

Winner: Israel Adesanya, TKO, round 2.

That was a performance that showed why Adesanya had a lot of buzz coming into his UFC debut. He’s clearly not all the way there as a complete MMA fighter but his striking is dangerous and he possesses natural power and athleticism. If he can continue to improve he can be a real force in this sport.

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Alexander Volkanovski vs. Jeremy Kennedy live round-by-round coverage

Alexander Volkanovski is an Australian favorite and is 3-0 thus far in the UFC. Jeremy Kennedy is also 3-0 in the UFC and undefeated in MMA competition overall so both men have a lot of momentum coming into this bout.

Round 1. Kennedy looks for a takedown but has it blocked. Volkanovski uses a trip takedown of his own and secures top position on the ground. Volkanovski lands some punches and elbows from there. Volkanovski is relentless with his offense from that position, landing repeated punches and forcing Kennedy to just cover up and try to survive. Kennedy finally gets up at the end of the round. 10-8 Volkanovski.

Round 2. Volkanovski gets a takedown 30 seconds in and goes right back to work. Volkanovski just keeps landing punches and elbows from the top, not worrying about submissions. Kennedy isn’t putting up much resistance or threatening back. Volkanovski really pours it on in the final minute looking for the finish. He lands blow after blow and finally it is stopped.

Winner: Alexander Volkanovski, TKO, round 2.

That was a dominant showing by Volkanovski, who made the formerly undefeated Kennedy look like he didn’t belong in there. That likely turned some heads and Volkanovski will probably be facing some top-notch competition in short order.

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Jussier Formiga vs. Ben Nguyen live round-by-round coverage

Jussier Formiga is one of the most accomplished competitors in the flyweight division. Jiu jitsu is his specialty and he has beaten some of the best fighters in his division. Ben Nguyen gained fame knocking out a tattooed bully in a video that went viral and he has done well thus far in the UFC.

Round 1. They clinch and work inside. Nguyen is more active with strikes in the clinch, landing knees and punches. They separate and exchange from distance. Formiga catches Nguyen coming in and gets a takedown. Formiga has side control with two minutes left in the round to work. Formiga transitions into full mount. Formiga lands some light punches there but isn’t able to set up a submission attempt. 10-9 Formiga.

Round 2. Nguyen cuts Formiga badly with an elbow. Formiga clinches and looks for another takedown but Nguyen defends well. Formiga lands a couple punches and shoots in for a takedown that is blocked. Formiga goes for another takedown moments later and this time he gets it. He is in Nguyen’s full guard. Formiga moves into half guard but Nguyen escapes back to his feet. Close round. 10-9 Formiga.

Round 3. The fighters trade on the feet early with neither man landing much of consequence. Formiga drops Nguyen with a spinning back fist and then chokes him out with a rear naked choke.

Winner: Jussier Formiga, submission, round 3.

That was a spectacular finish by Jussier Formiga, something that will remain on his highlight reel for years and greatly enhances his claim to a potential title shot.

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Ross Pearson vs. Mizuto Hirota live round-by-round coverage

Ross Pearson is a hard hitting fan favorite and has fought in the UFC since 2009. However, he looks to be fading as a competitor and has lost four straight. Mizuto Hirota is a veteran of the sport as well with a 4-1-1 record in his last 6 fights.

Round 1. Both fighters look to establish their jabs. Pearson appears to have a little more zip in his. Pearson connects with a quality left hook. Hirota lands a few nice low kicks. Hirota looks for a takedown in the final minute but Pearson defends it well. Pearson throws a flying knee that misses late. 10-9 Pearson.

Round 2. The fighters begin to throw more early in the second. Pearson in particular is landing some nice jabs and hooks, his usual style of standup oriented fighting. Hirota lands a head kick. Pearson is consistently doing well with lunging punches, catching Hirota without leaving himself open. Hirota lands a hard left hook and follows with a series of punches. He then drops Pearson with another left hand and looks to finish. Pearson is able to recover. 10-9 Hirota.

Round 3. Hirota throws some jabs and leg kicks as Pearson moves in. The leg kicks are starting to add up. Pearson is swinging at air more in the third than in the previous two rounds. Pearson bloodies Hirota with a hard straight left hand, opening up what had been a much smaller cut. The fighters open up at the close, with each man getting aggressive. 10-9 Hirota, 29-28 Hirota.

Winner: Ross Pearson, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28).

Ross Pearson has taken some hard luck decisions over the years so he surely appreciates that one. He looked crisp and quick early although Hirota did appear to be taking over late. It’s an important win for Pearson, who will have the opportunity to continue his longstanding UFC career.

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Jose Quinonez vs. Teruto Ishihara live round-by-round coverage

This is a battle of two fighters who showed a lot of personality on UFC reality shows. Jose Quinonez starred in the Ultimate Fighter Latin America and has won three straight fights in the UFC against low level opposition. Teruto Ishihara likewise stood out on the UFC’s Road to UFC: Japan show and has gone 3-2-1 in the UFC.

Round 1. Ishihara moves in with strikes, but Quinonez catches him off balance with a takedown. Ishihara works his way back up in quick order, leaving them to grapple in the clinch by the cage. Quinonez pulls Ishihara back down and takes the back. Quinonez locks in a body triangle and looks for a rear naked choke. Ishihara nicely escapes the position and returns to his feet. Ishihara aggressively opens up with punches. Quinonez clinches but eats a strong right hand and left hand late. That’s a tough round to score. Quinonez controlled most of the round but he didn’t do much damage at all and Ishihara landed some big shots late. 10-9 Quinonez.

Round 2. Ishihara opens with some kicks. Quinonez comes from a striking background, but he seems reluctant to exchange with Ishihara. As the round progresses, Quinonez becomes seems more comfortable in the striking. Ishihara lands a looping left hand to the ear late and Quinonez goes down before the round ends. 10-9 Ishihara.

Round 3. The fighters trade low kicks. That’s one of Quinonez’s favorite techniques. Ishihara has thrown more punches throughout but he isn’t that aggressive in the third. Quinonez connects with a nice punch and head kick but has a takedown attempt stuffed. Quinonez lands some solid kicks late. 10-9 Quinonez, 29-28 Quinonez.

Winner: Jose Quinonez, unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28).

It was a close call, but Jose Quinonez got the nod against a solid opponent. Quinonez continues to add to his game and round out as a fighter.

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Luke Jumeau vs. Daichi Abe live round-by-round coverage

Luke Jumeau is a New Zealand native with a 1-1 record thus far in the UFC. Daichi Abe is undefeated and was successful in his UFC debut in September.

Round 1. Abe opens with a series of kicks. After Abe connects repeatedly, Jumeau finally opens up. Jumeau lands an overhand right and then a hard hook that staggers Abe a little. Abe recovers well and Jumeau doesn’t push the issue. Abe lands a nice uppercut as Jumeau moves in. Abe then lands a series of hard punches by the cage. Jumeau encourages him to bring it on. Moments later, Abe drops Jumeau with another punch. Jumeau just covers up on the ground as Abe hammers him with repeated punches. The fight could well be stopped, but the referee lets him continue and Jumeau returns to his feet. Back on the feet, Abe hurts Jumeau with another big punch. 10-8 Abe.

Round 2. Jumeau goes for a takedown to start the round. Jumeau gets Abe to the ground, but Abe works back up in no time at all. They strike at a slower pace than in the first, perhaps because Jumeau has learned about Abe’s dangerous power while Abe expended so much energy trying to win the fight. Jumeau lands a few solid punches. Abe’s lack of energy is apparent as the round progresses. Jumeau is doing a little bit more although his face is an absolute mess after the first round. 10-9 Jumeau.

Round 3. Jumeau connects early with a short left hand. Jumeau follows with a low kick moments later. Abe continues to have low output. Jumeau lands a big high kick that the crowd reacts strongly to. Abe busts up Jumeau’s eye badly with a punch. The referee stops it thinking there was an eye poke but it doesn’t appear that was the case. The fighters trade body kicks. Jumeau continues to throw and land more. Jumeau knocks Abe down with a leg kick late and lands punches on the ground at the close. 10-9 Jumeau, 28-28 draw.

Winner: Luke Jumeau, unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 28-27)

Daichi Abe did a ton of damage in the first round and could have gotten the finish, but Luke Jumeau hung on and took over once Abe used all of his energy. This was the classic example of Chael Sonnen’s view that you can either fight to score a finish or fight to win a decision. As an aside, one judge apparently scored the third round 10-8 for Jumeau while only scoring the first round 10-9 for Abe, and that’s an awful scorecard.

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