Rematches have been a significant part of combat sports history, and Saturday another big one takes place when UFC middleweight champ Robert Whittaker and challenger Yoel Romero throw down for a second time in the UFC 225 headliner.
The pair first met for interim gold in July 2017 at UFC 213, where Whittaker took a unanimous decision. Now they will run it back for the undisputed strap in the main event of UFC 225, which takes place at United Center in Chicago and airs on pay-per-view following prelims on UFC Fight Pass.
The history of rematches in the UFC is long and storied, with most of the biggest rivalries in the promotion’s history being built through multiple encounters. There have been instances when fighters clash early in their careers, then meet up later for UFC gold, have several title-fight showdowns over the course of multiple years, or even meet back-to-back because of a controversial or unforeseen outcome.
Overall, the second Whittaker (19-4 MMA, 10-2 UFC) vs. Romero (13-2 MMA, 8-1 UFC) showdown marks the 50th time a rematch has taken place with UFC gold on the line. History shows the fighter who wins the first bout has great odds of taking the second, as well.
Over the course of 25 years the UFC has rolled out the rematch many times. Now it’s time to dig into the numbers and see what patterns and probabilities have formed.
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The bout between Whittaker and Romero marks the 28th time in UFC history when a pair of fighters have fought twice for UFC gold:There have been 27 rematch situations in UFC history in which both fights were scheduled as championship contests. Of those 27 rematches, 10 of them served as an immediate rematch for at least one fighter. The person who failed to win the first fight was unsuccessful in the rematch seven out of 10 times. Overall, the person to win the first fight also won the rematch 18 of 26 times. There’s one instance of an initial meeting ending in a draw. Specific to Whittaker vs. Romero, all three rematch scenarios in middleweight history have seen the same fighter win both bouts.
Beating a fighter who already beat you in a title fight is a challenging hurdle to overcome, but it can and has been done inside the octagon. And somewhat surprisingly, it’s fighters who lose by stoppage who get the most emphatic type of revenge:There are eight fighters who lost title bouts, but eventually got their way back to a rematch. Six of them succumbed to a stoppage, while two went to the scorecards and lost by decision. Of the six who lost by stoppage, five got revenge with a finish of their own to win a title in the rematch. Of the two who lost by decision, one avenged defeat by stoppage, while the other won by decision.
Although Whittaker vs. Romero 2 at UFC 225 joins the list of two-fight series that feature two title bouts, there are additional rematch examples from throughout UFC history.There have been 49 rematch situations overall in UFC history that range from multiple UFC title fights to the first fight not being for a UFC title or having occurred in another organization. The rematch produced the same winner as the first fight 30 out of 47 times. One of the initial bouts ended in a draw, as did one of the rematches. Of the 17 times when the winner of the rematch was different, there are nine instances in which the older rallied from a loss to beat a younger foe.
Given the history or title rematches, the odds don’t seem to be on Romero’s side going into his second encounter with Whittaker, especially with the challenger being 14 years his opponent’s elder.
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