The UFC has booked a potential middleweight title eliminator for an upcoming spring card down south, and I’ll offer my thoughts on this exciting new fight in today’s MMA odds and ends.
Yoel Romero vs. Ronaldo”Jacare” Souza two, UFC on ESPN 3
All of us believed the most important event of UFC on ESPN 3 was likely to become a five-round middleweight fight between Yoel Romero and Paulo Costa. There’s been a change of plans. According to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, Costa has been scratched in the card and now Romero will rematch rival Ronaldo”Jacare” Souza in a rematch. UFC on ESPN 3 takes place April 27 at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida, and Romero vs. Souza two is set as the newest five-round main event.
It was possibly slightly surprising to observe that the UFC book this rematch at the point of time, with Romero coming from a split decision loss to Robert Whittaker in his final fight and Souza that a KO win over Chris Weidman, but looking at the condition of the middleweight division more closely the fight makes sense. With Kelvin Gastelum combating Israel Adesanya in UFC 236 for the interim middleweight title, and the champ Whittaker sitting on the sidelines with injuries, the division continues to move along and await no one. Both fighters needed a matchup to stay busy in among the sport’s most active divisions, and no additional top-ranked contenders available to fight in April, this rematch between Romero and Souza was the way to go to the UFC.
The very first time Romero and Souza fought was back in UFC 194 at December 2015 (the same night Conor McGregor knocked out Jose Aldo), with Romero edging out a narrow split decision. Ever since that time, Romero has gone 2-2 with a pair of decision declines in the Octagon to Whittaker bookmarked by KO wins within Luke Rockhold and the aforementioned Weidman. Souza, meanwhile, has gone 4-2 since with finishes over Weidman, Derek Brunson, Vitor Belfort and Tim Boetsch and reductions to Whittaker and Gastelum. Despite both Romero and Souza being 41 and 39, respectively, they remain on top of the middleweight division, and the winner of the bout should be near a title shot.
Romero (13-3) is 9-2 overall from the UFC and has emerged as one of the most devastating knockout artists in the sport now, not to mention among their most accomplished wrestlers. Souza (26-6, 1 NC) is 8-3 at the UFC and is one of the most well-rounded fighters in the division, not to mention one of the best MMA fighters ever to haven’t fought for a UFC name.
As for the odds with this rematch, I am expecting something near a Select ‘em with a little lean towards Romero just because he was training for this particular card and because he won the first battle. But the very first fight was only 3 rounds, and these two rounds could turn out to be the gap in the rematch this time around. Irrespective of who receives their hand raised, it’s likely to be a great fight, however.
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