Whittaker wins instant classic with one arm
ROBERT Whittaker is officially Australia's new No.1 fighter after prevailing in a bloody UFC middleweight war that included him fighting for much of 25 minutes with a broken right hand.
On the same day countryman Jeff Horn lost his WBO welterweight belt, Whittaker claimed an incredibly gutsy split decision over Cuban Yoel Romero in Chicago.
By the fifth round, the entire sold-out crowd was on its feet, as the two battered fighters continually traded blows.
Whittaker revealed afterwards that he had fought much of the five-round encounter with a broken right hand.
Yet despite being dropped several times, and looking like he was gone in the final round, he managed to hang on and clinch an incredible decision 48-47 47-48 48-47.
The win means Whittaker is unbeaten in his past nine fights.
Better, though, was how he did.
While he closed the right eye of Romero in the second round, the hulking Cuban rallied for periods of the next three - with his game plan seemingly built around those trademark burst of explosive power.
Initially, the fight was to be for the UFC middleweight title.
However, that all changed after Romero failed to make weight - albeit by 90 grams, or the weight of fork - early Friday morning.
Apart from being fined a percentage of his purse, the middleweight also forfeited the right to fight for the belt.
And while Whittaker could not lose the gold strap, even with a loss, UFC officials confirmed that a win would count as his first title defence.
Incredibly, it wasn't until fight day that Team Romero actually agreed to all the stipulations.
While Romero said afterwards that he would like to have a third match, that seems unlikely given he failed to make weight for a UFC title fight.