July 7, 2017

UFC 213: Robert Whittaker vs. Yoel Romero Is the Ultimate Battle of Betting Underdogs

By Adam Martin

UFC 213 is a card full of well-matched fights, but perhaps the most competitive of all the 12 fights on the card is the co-main event, a five-round interim middleweight title fight between perennial underdogs Robert Whittaker and Yoel Romero. Not surprisingly, the odds for this fight are very close with just days to go until the bout. After Romero opened as a slight favorite, early money has come in on Whittaker, making him a small favorite. Money is expected to come back Romero’s way, and by the time of the fight this could very well be a true pick ‘em.

That would seem to make sense considering how many times these two men have been the underdogs in their fights, with both constantly being underrated by bettors. Indeed, both men have long been undervalued at the betting window. Yet both have continued to come through with wins, as both men are undefeated in the UFC middleweight division.

In the case of Whittaker, he’s 9-2 overall in the UFC but a perfect 6-0 since moving to 185 pounds. A former Ultimate Fighter winner, the 26-year-old Aussie flamed out at welterweight before surprisingly moving to middleweight, a division where most thought he would be undersized. It turns out that hasn’t been the case.

At middleweight, Whittaker has shown more durability and speed than what he had at welterweight, and he’s carried his power up in weight. He’s also improved his wrestling and ground game, making him now one of the most dangerous fighters in the division. That’s led him to a perfect 6-0 record in the weight class, with five of those wins coming as an underdog (against Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, Derek Brunson, Uriah Hall, Brad Tavares, and Clint Hester), and only one as a favorite (Rafael Natal). This is a fighter who hasn’t been respected at the betting window, but now, after knocking out Jacare, he has to be taken seriously.

As for Romero, much of what was said about Whittaker can be said about him. The 40-year-old Cuban is a freak of nature, yet for whatever reason he hasn’t been respected at the betting window either. Since coming over to the UFC, Romero is a perfect 8-0, with five of those wins coming as an underdog (against Jacare, Chris Weidman, Lyoto Machida, Brad Tavares, and Tim Kennedy) and only three coming as a favorite (against Derek Brunson, Clifford Starks, and Ronny Markes). Like Whittaker, Romero is a guy who bettors just haven’t figured out.

So now comes the hard part, because the two guys who everyone always picks to lose and now fighting each other and someone has to win. So far, more people are backing Whittaker, and it makes sense considering his massive youth advantage. But Romero is an absolute freak, and how do you bet against him? This is truly a coin-flip type of fight where either man has a chance to win. And considering their pasts, don’t be surprised if the underdog comes through yet again -- whoever that may be by the time the fight rolls around.


UFC 213: Romero vs. Whittaker (formerly UFC 213: Nunes vs. Shevchenko) takes place July 8, 2017 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Click the stars to rate how good you think UFC 213 will be.
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