The UFC has reserved a potential middleweight title eliminator for an upcoming spring card down south, and I’ll offer my thoughts on this thrilling new fight in the present MMA odds and ends.
Yoel Romero vs. Ronaldo”Jacare” Souza two, UFC on ESPN 3
All of us thought the main event of UFC on ESPN 3 was going to become a five-round middleweight fight between Yoel Romero and Paulo Costa. However, there’s been a change of plans. Based on ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, Costa has been scratched from the card and now 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 defined as the new five-round main event.
It was possibly slightly surprising to observe the UFC publication this rematch at the time period, with Romero coming from a split decision loss to Robert Whittaker in his final struggle and Souza a KO win over Chris Weidman, however looking at the state of the middleweight division more closely the struggle is logical. With Kelvin Gastelum combating 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 among the game’s most active divisions, and with no additional top-ranked contenders available to fight in April, this rematch between Romero and Souza was the best way to go to the UFC.
The first time Romero and Souza fought was back at UFC 194 in 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 in the Octagon to Whittaker bookmarked by KO wins over the aforementioned Weidman and Luke Rockhold. 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 stay on peak of the middleweight division, and also the winner of the 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 in the sport today, not to mention one of 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 branch, not to mention among the best MMA fighters ever to have not fought for a UFC name.
In terms of the chances with this rematch, I am anticipating something near a Pick ’em with a little lean towards Romero because he was already training for this particular card and because he won the first battle. Nevertheless, the fight was just 3 rounds, and these two rounds could prove to be the difference in the rematch now around. It is going to be a fight irrespective of who receives their hands raised.
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