The UFC has booked a possible middleweight title eliminator for an upcoming spring card down south, and I’ll offer my thoughts on this thrilling new battle in today’s MMA odds and ends.
Yoel Romero vs. Ronaldo”Jacare” Souza 2, UFC on ESPN 3
All of us believed the main event of UFC on ESPN 3 was likely to be a five-round middleweight fight between Yoel Romero and Paulo Costa. But, there’s been a change of plans. According to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, Costa was scratched in the card and now Romero will rematch rival Ronaldo”Jacare” Souza at a rematch. UFC on ESPN 3 takes place April 27 in BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida, and Romero vs. Souza 2 is defined as the newest five-round main event.
It was possibly slightly surprising to observe that the UFC book this rematch at the time period, 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 combating Israel Adesanya in UFC 236 for the interim middleweight title, and the champ Whittaker sitting on the sidelines with injuries, the branch continues to move along and await no one. Both fighters had a matchup to keep busy in among the sport’s most active branches, and no additional top-ranked contenders accessible to fight in April, this rematch between Romero and Souza was the way to go for the UFC.
The first time Romero and Souza fought was back at UFC 194 at December 2015 (the same night Conor McGregor knocked out Jose Aldo), together with Romero edging out a narrow split decision. Ever since that time, Romero has gone 2-2 using a pair of decision declines at the Octagon to Whittaker bookmarked by KO wins within Luke Rockhold and the above Weidman. Souza, meanwhile, has gone 4-2 since with endings within 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 peak of the middleweight division, and the winner of the bout ought to 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 from the game today, and of course one of the 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, and of course one of the best MMA fighters to have not fought for a UFC title.
In terms of the chances with this rematch, I’m expecting something near a Select Celtics using a little lean towards Romero because he was already training for this particular card and because he won the first battle. But the fight was just three rounds, and these two rounds could prove to be the gap in the rematch this time around. Regardless of who gets their hands raised it’s likely to be a fight, though.
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