UFC 221 isn’t being held in Las Vegas or New York, but instead in Perth, Australia. The remote location and a lack of stars on the fight card makes this faraway fight night a little less bright. But the world will still tune in, knowing one of these fighters might be on their way to becoming the next MMA hero as the UFC struggles to find a proper champion.

Luke Rockhold
Luke Rockhold (pictured) will face Yoel Romero in the main event of UFC 221 in Perth, Australia Saturday. (Image: USA Today Sports)

Only seven fighters of the 24 on the docket are in the official UFC rankings. And one of the challenges was finding a suitable marquee event. With only one title fight among the five fights on the main card, a lot was riding initially on champions Robert Whittaker or George St. Pierre. Whittaker’s was ready to fight in his home country against St. Pierre, but the lifelong welterweight would be unable to defend his middleweight title after injuring his neck at UFC 217 in November.

Then in December, he was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory condition that affects the lining of the large intestine. St. Pierre is now expected to be out for at least a year or two.

Without him, Whittaker was going to fight Luke Rockhold, but then Whittaker had to withdraw due to a serious staph infection in his stomach. Rockhold will instead battle Yoel Romero.

Main Card Betting Odds

Luke Rockhold vs. Yoel Romero

Romero is a +130 underdog to Rockhold, and the two will be fighting for the interim middleweight title. The No. 2 ranked fighter is 16-3, while Romero is No. 3 at 12-2. Rockhold held the belt but lost it to Michael Bisping in 2016. Romero lost to Whittaker at UFC 213.

Curtis Blaydes vs. Mark Hunt

Blades is ranked ninth in the heavyweight division and has won his last three contests. Hunt is No. 5 and is the underdog at +140. He does have the advantage of being from neighboring New Zealand and fighting frequently in Australia so he’ll have the crowd on his side.

Tai Tuivasa vs. Cyril Asker

Another heavyweight bout but this one features unranked combatants. Tuivasa is from Australia, so he’ll have an advantage there, but doesn’t really need it. He is an overwhelming -300 favorite to dispatch the less experienced Asker.

Li Jingliang vs. Jake Matthews

This could be a case of two fighters going in different directions. Matthews was once seen as a serious contender, but the Aussie has struggled since moving up to the welterweight division. Jingliang is one of China’s most impressive stars and has won his last four. He is a -160 pick to defeat the +135 Matthews.

Pedro Tyson vs. Saparbek Safarov

Tyson has a chance to become a serious contender in the light heavyweight division but he will have to get past a pesky Safarov to do so. A victory could get him in the top 10 rankings. He is a -270 selection, while Safarov is +220 for an upset.

Curious Undercards

Ben Nguyen vs. Jussier Formiga

These two flyweights are both ranked and Nguyen publically questioned why they weren’t part of the main card. He has a point and the two might present one of the most entertaining fights of the evening. Formiga is a slight favorite at -120.

Damien Brown vs. Dong Hyun Kim

Brown hasn’t won a fight since 2016 and is facing a formidable foe in Kim. He might be tossed from the UFC if he loses his third consecutive fight. He is a +120 to Kim’s -150.

Mizuto Hirota vs. Ross Pearson

Another fighter that might be competing for his UFC spot, Pearson has suffered four losses in a row and the organization won’t allow a fifth. Good news is he is a -155 pick over Hirota, who is at +135 in this lightweight bout.