The UFC has booked a potential middleweight title eliminator for an approaching spring down card south, and I’ll offer my thoughts on this exciting new battle in today’s MMA odds and ends.
Yoel Romero vs. Ronaldo »Jacare » Souza 2, 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. But, there’s been a change of plans. Based on ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, Costa has been scraped from the card and now Romero will rematch rival Ronaldo »Jacare » Souza at 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 publication this rematch at the point of time, with Romero coming off of a split decision loss to Robert Whittaker in his final fight and Souza a KO win over Chris Weidman, however looking at the condition of the middleweight division more closely the fight is logical. With Kelvin Gastelum fighting Israel Adesanya at UFC 236 for its interim middleweight title, along with the champ Whittaker sitting on the sidelines with injuries, the division continues to move along and wait for no one. Both fighters needed a matchup to keep busy in one of the game’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 in UFC 194 at December 2015 (the same night Conor McGregor knocked out Jose Aldo), together with Romero edging out a narrow split decision. Since then, Romero has gone 2-2 at the Octagon with a set of decision losses to Whittaker. Souza, meanwhile, has gone 4-2 since then with finishes 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 stay at the top of the middleweight division, and the winner of this bout should be close to 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 sport today, and of course among the most accomplished wrestlers. Souza (26-6, 1 NC) is 8-3 in the UFC and is one of the most well-rounded fighters in the division, and of course one of the best MMA fighters ever to have not fought for a UFC title.
As for the chances for this rematch, I am expecting something near a Select ‘em with a slight lean towards Romero just because he was already training with this particular card and since he won the first fight. But the fight was just three rounds, and these extra two rounds could prove to be the gap in the rematch this time around. Regardless of who gets their hands raised, it is going to be a fight that is fantastic, however.
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