Whittaker’s payback vow after weigh-in farce
YOEL Romero never needed the stretcher UFC officials had quietly placed on standby in the hall.
But, geez, it was closer than he would've liked.
Especially after the Cuban's second attempt at making weight on Saturday.
When having stood naked on the scales behind a large white towel, UFC logo emblazoned across the front, the middleweight then slowly stepped down, struggled to redress, and was assisted backstage.
Soon after, two members of his team seen helping him off up the hallway towards the Marriott hotel lifts.
And with him disappeared Robert Whittaker's chance to defend a UFC middleweight title.
Whittaker, talked up all week as one half of an Australian "Super Sunday", has been robbed of the chance to defend his gold belt after Romero weighed in heavy for their blockbuster title fight.
Incredibly, the offending limit was 90g.
Overweight by the equivalent of a dinner fork. Or six 50c pieces.
The botched weigh-in was also the second in as many fights for the 41-year-old Cuban, who also came in heavy against American Luke Rockhold at UFC 221 in February.
While Rockhold still agreed to take part in the Perth headliner, he was knocked out in round three.
But on Saturday, it was Romero who looked completely battered when he arrived for the official weigh-ins at 10.46am.
Not only the last of 26 fighters to hit the scales, but almost two hours after Whittaker.
So tired was the 2000 Sydney Olympic medallist, he started disrobing before UFC officials even had time to place a white towel in front of him.
Weighing in one pound (400g) overweight, Romero was given two hours to make amends, but again failed on his second attempt.
At which point Fabricio Itte, the head coach of Team Whittaker, took a lift up to their hotel suite where his fighter was already fed, hydrated and now sleeping.
Told Romero had missed weight, and that a world title defence was now gone, the champ insisted the fight still take place.
He wasn't angry, they say.
Or even annoyed.
Promising only that he would make the Cuban pay for those 90g.
"Rob will still be fighting," his manager Titus Day told The Sunday Telegraph. "His initial reaction was 'OK, this sucks' but he still wants to get out there because he knows so many Australians wanted to see this fight.
"For him, it's inconceivable - completely ridiculous - that a fighter can miss weight. But once he agreed to fight, he stopped caring about Romero.
"Rob has turned all the focus back on himself. On what he can do. And that's putting on a great show and knocking Romero out."