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Yoel Romero explains leg injury in UFC 221 main event against Luke Rockhold (updated)

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UFC 221: Romero v Rockhold Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Yoel Romero finished Luke Rockhold in the third round with a violent knockout Saturday night. Two rounds earlier, though, Romero might have actually broken his leg.

Romero, the explosive middleweight supernova, told interviewer Megan Olivi on the FS1 post-fight show that he believes a pair of Rockhold kicks did major damage to his wheels in the main event of UFC 221 in Perth, Western Australia.

“Yes, I think in the first round I took two kicks and I’m pretty sure that it broke my leg,” Romero said through a translator.

Romero, 40, could not stand up for the post-fight interview with Jon Anik in the Octagon and he had to be helped out of the cage by his team. MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani reported that Romero’s team said it was an injury to the shin and it was nothing he came into the fight with.

Romero was also unable to stand for the post-fight show interview and was taken to the hospital afterward. He did not attend the post-fight press conference.

In the third round, Romero landed a big overhand left and then followed up with a vicious punch to a floored Rockhold to win by knockout. The former Olympic wrestling silver medalist from Cuba took the fight on just four weeks notice after UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker pulled out due to injury.

“I felt very good,” Romero said. “We trained very hard for this fight, we trained very good for this fight. We had six-, seven-round sparrings. I had no worries whatsoever in terms of cardio. If we would have some small changes, we would have had a better result.”

Romero (13-2) missed weight by 2.7 pounds Friday and was ineligible to win the interim middleweight title Saturday. Rockhold would have become UFC interim middleweight champion had he won at UFC 221. Romero, who has never missed weight before, said he had a diet plan laid out for his originally scheduled fight at UFC on FOX 28 in two weeks. When he accepted the fight against Rockhold, he said he had to change things and it “messed up a little bit for the weight cut.”

“Do you seriously think that if I would have been fighting in Orlando that i would have had this issue?” Romero said.

UFC executive David Shaw said Saturday night that the weight miss would not likely affect Romero getting the next title shot against Whittaker. Of course, the timing and scope of that will depend on the health of both.

Update: Hours after the card, Romero’s manager Abe Kawa posted on Twitter that Romero’s leg injury might not have been as severe as he originally thought.