Robert Whittaker battled frightening challenger Yoel Romero in a classic slugfest (full highlights here) in the main event of last night’s (Sat., June 9, 2018) UFC 225 from the United Center in Chicago, Illinois.
And he did so with essentially one hand.
Beating “Soldier of God” by close split decision in a hard-fought, controversial war, Whittaker’s camp revealed he broke his right thumb early in the first round of the historic fight with photos of his x-rays on social media:
The injury means it was the second fight Whittaker beat Romero with a serious injury suffered in the first round, as the 27-year-old champion seriously hurt his knee from a push kick in the first round of their initial UFC 213 match-up last July.
As the fight wore on into the later frames, you could tell Whittaker had indeed hurt his right hand because he refused to throw it. And while the champ was dropped by some hellacious shots from “The Soldier of God” in both the fourth and fifth rounds in addition to breaking his thumb, he legitimately showed some of the most iron-willed toughness we’ve ever seen from a UFC competitor by somehow staying conscious enough to edge out a win thanks to his high-volume striking attack.
True, Romero believes he’s actually the champion – he said as much in a video from a hospital bed, but after the Cuban slugger missed weight and then lost the fight, Whittaker emerged with the belt and the right to call himself champ following one of the most unbelievable displays of toughness the octagon has ever seen.
The fact that he did it with another serious injury is icing on the cake for a man quickly becoming one of the UFC’s most skilled titleholders.