The UFC has reserved a potential middleweight title eliminator for an upcoming spring card down south, and I will give my thoughts on this thrilling new battle in the present MMA odds and ends.
Yoel Romero vs. Ronaldo »Jacare » Souza 2, UFC on ESPN 3
We all thought the main 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. Based on ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, Costa was scraped from the card and Romero will rematch rival Ronaldo »Jacare » Souza in a rematch. UFC on ESPN 3 takes place April 27 in BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida, and Romero vs. Souza 2 is set as the new five-round principal event.
It was perhaps slightly surprising to observe the UFC publication this rematch at the point of time, together with Romero coming from a split decision loss to Robert Whittaker in his final struggle and Souza that a KO win over Chris Weidman, but looking at the state of the middleweight division more closely the fight 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 division continues to move along and await no one. Both fighters needed a matchup to keep busy in among the sport’s most active divisions, and no other top-ranked contenders available to fight in April, this rematch between Romero and Souza was the way to go for the UFC.
The very first time Romero and Souza fought was back at UFC 194 at December 2015 (the exact same night Conor McGregor knocked out Jose Aldo), together with Romero edging out a narrow split decision. Since that time, Romero has gone 2-2 at the Octagon to Whittaker bookmarked by KO wins within Luke Rockhold and the aforementioned Weidman. Souza, meanwhile, has gone 4-2 since with endings 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 peak of the middleweight division, and also the winner of the bout should 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 game now, not to mention one of the most accomplished wrestlers. Souza (26-6, 1 NC) is 8-3 at the UFC and is among the most well-rounded fighters at the division, and of course among the best MMA fighters ever to haven’t fought for a UFC title.
In terms of the chances with this rematch, I am anticipating something near a Pick ’em with a little lean towards Romero just because he was training with this particular card and because he won the first fight. Nevertheless, the first fight was only 3 rounds, and these two rounds could turn out to be the difference in the rematch now around. Regardless of who receives their hand raised it is going to be a fight, though.
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