UFC 225 featured an instant classic between reigning undisputed middleweight champion Robert Whittaker and perennial middleweight contender Yoel Romero. With a controversial split-decision victory over Romero, Robert Whittaker now owns two victories over Yoel Romero, providing the only two losses on the Soldier of God’s UFC résumé. Following Whittaker’s first successful title defense, he spoke with GrangeTV and spoke about the difference between 2017 Yoel Romero and 2018 Romero, and the middleweight champion seems stumped at how someone Romero’s age could have his performance enhanced so drastically within one year’s time:
“He’s a top caliber athlete, but for him to come back the way he did and for him to feel so differently and to perform so differently than he did a year ago,” Whittaker began. “Let’s not forget, I have fought him before. I have experienced his shots. I have experienced landing shots on him. I have experienced him, fighting him before.
“For him to make those changes physically and athletically in a year, at the age of 40, I’m leaving that down to nothing more than magic. I can’t see you jumping on a special diet filled with kale and good fruits and performing like that.”
ANALYSIS: Whittaker’s comments seem to either be implying Romero enhanced his performance prior to their bout or he is just genuinely perplexed at how Romero is able to keep getting better at this age. Taken at its face, the comments seem to be saying the latter. However, with a closer read, he may be making cloaked accusations at Romero. After stating Romero is a top-caliber athlete, Whittaker decided to go with the “but” conjunction rather than “and.” As if to say, “Even though Romero is a top caliber athlete, there is something that contrasts with his status as a top athlete status that must be stated.” He could have just as easily said, “He’s a top caliber athlete, AND for him to come back the way he did was amazing,” or something along those lines. Of course, Robert Whittaker did not directly accuse Romero of anything, so it is unfair to assume that is what he was saying, but you can judge for yourself.
Do you think Robert Whittaker was accusing Yoel Romero of “enhancing” his performance leading into their UFC 225 bout?