An injury to middleweight champion Robert Whittaker has shaken up the betting odds for the main event at Saturday’s UFC 221 card in Perth, Australia. Instead of sitting as a solid underdog against Whittaker, challenger Luke Rockhold (16-3) is now a -160 favorite (bet $160 to win $100) versus No. 1 contender Yoel Romero (12-2).
Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com
Romero is listed as a +130 underdog (bet $100 to win $130) and coming off a unanimous-decision loss to Whittaker for the interim title on July 8 at UFC 213 in Las Vegas, snapping an eight-bout winning streak. He got the call to fight for the belt again when Whittaker did not properly treat a staph infection in his stomach and was forced to withdraw from his originally scheduled championship bout against Rockhold.
Whittaker had been promoted to middleweight champion when Georges St-Pierre gave up the belt after defeating Michael Bisping at UFC 217 last November 4. The winner of Romero-Rockhold will then take on Whittaker at a later date to unify the titles.
Rockhold bounced back from a surprising first-round knockout loss to Bisping at UFC 199 nearly two years ago by submitting David Branch at UFC Fight Night 116 last September 16. He had earned the middleweight championship by scoring a fourth-round TKO of Chris Weidman at UFC 194 before relinquishing the title to Bisping.
Leading up to that matchup, a local favorite remains on the card in heavyweight Mark Hunt (13-11-1, 1 No-Contest), who will battle Curtis Blaydes (8-1, 1 NC) in the co-main event. The 43-year-old New Zealander picked up a fourth-round TKO of Derrick Lewis at UFC Fight Night 110 in Auckland on June 11 to break a two-fight winless streak.
Hunt is the +140 underdog and was knocked out in the third round by Alistair Overeem in his previous bout after a UD loss to Brock Lesnar at UFC 200 was later overturned to a NC because his opponent tested positive for a banned substance. He had won two in a row before that skid, knocking out Antonio Silva and Frank Mir, both in the first round.
Meanwhile, Blaydes is the -170 favorite and tested positive for marijuana a year ago following a TKO win over Adam Milstead at UFC Fight Night 104, turning that into a NC as well. Otherwise, he would be riding a four-fight winning streak, with his lone loss coming against Francis Ngannou, who just lost to Stipe Miocic for the heavyweight title.