The UFC has reserved a possible middleweight title eliminator for an upcoming spring card down south, and I will give my thoughts on this exciting new battle in the present MMA odds and ends.
Yoel Romero vs. Ronaldo»Jacare» Souza 2, UFC on ESPN 3
We all believed the main event of UFC on ESPN 3 was likely 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 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 perhaps slightly surprising to observe that the UFC publication this rematch at this point of time, with Romero coming from a split decision loss to Robert Whittaker in his last fight and Souza a KO win over Chris Weidman, but looking at the condition 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 stay busy in among the sport’s most active branches, and with no other top-ranked contenders accessible 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 same night Conor McGregor knocked out Jose Aldo), with Romero edging out a narrow split decision. Since that time, Romero has gone 2-2 using a pair of conclusion losses at the Octagon to Whittaker bookmarked by KO wins within Luke Rockhold and the aforementioned Weidman. Souza, meanwhile, has gone 4-2 since with finishes within Weidman, Derek Brunson, Vitor Belfort and Tim Boetsch and reductions to Whittaker and Gastelum. Despite both Romero and Souza being 41 and 39, respectively, they stay at the top of the middleweight division, and also the winner of this bout should 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 in the sport today, not to mention one of their most accomplished wrestlers. Souza (26-6, 1 NC) is 8-3 at the UFC and is among the most well-rounded fighters at the branch, not to mention one of the best MMA fighters ever to have not fought for a UFC name.
As for the odds with this rematch, I’m anticipating something near a Pick Celtics using a slight lean towards Romero just because he was already training with this card and because he won the first battle. 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 receives their hands raised it is likely to be a great fight, however.
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