The UFC has booked a potential middleweight title eliminator for an upcoming spring card down south, and I’ll give my thoughts on this thrilling new battle in today’s MMA odds and ends.
Yoel Romero vs. Ronaldo”Jacare” Souza two, UFC on ESPN 3
We all thought the most important event of UFC on ESPN 3 was going 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 from the card and 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 2 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, together with Romero coming from a split decision loss to Robert Whittaker in his last struggle and Souza that a KO win over Chris Weidman, but looking at the condition of the middleweight division more closely the struggle makes sense. With Kelvin Gastelum fighting Israel Adesanya in UFC 236 for the interim middleweight title, along with the champ Whittaker sitting on the sidelines with injuries, the branch continues to move along and wait for no one. Both fighters had a matchup to keep busy in among the game’s most active divisions, and no additional top-ranked contenders available to fight in April, this rematch between Romero and Souza was the best way to go for the UFC.
The very first time Romero and Souza fought was back at UFC 194 in December 2015 (the exact same night Conor McGregor knocked out Jose Aldo), together with Romero edging out a narrow split decision. Ever since then, Romero has gone 2-2 using a pair of conclusion declines at the Octagon to Whittaker bookmarked by KO wins over Luke Rockhold and the aforementioned Weidman. Souza, meanwhile, has gone 4-2 since then with finishes over Weidman, Derek Brunson, Vitor Belfort and Tim Boetsch and losses to Whittaker and Gastelum. Despite both Romero and Souza being 41 and 39, respectively, they remain on top of the middleweight division, and also the winner of this bout ought to be near a title shot.
Romero (13-3) is 9-2 overall in the UFC and has emerged as one of the most devastating knockout artists from the sport today, and of course one of their most accomplished wrestlers. Souza (26-6, 1 NC) is 8-3 at the UFC and is one of the most well-rounded fighters at the division, not to mention one of the best MMA fighters to haven’t fought for a UFC title.
As for the chances for this rematch, I’m expecting something near a Pick ’em with a little lean towards Romero just because he was training for this particular card and since he won the first fight. But the fight was only three rounds, and these additional two rounds could prove to be the difference in the rematch this time around. It is likely to be a fight, however, regardless of who gets their hands raised.
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