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The UFC has booked a potential middleweight title eliminator for an upcoming spring card down south, and I’ll offer my thoughts on this thrilling new fight in today’s MMA odds and ends.
Yoel Romero vs. Ronaldo”Jacare” Souza 2, UFC on ESPN 3
All of us believed the most important event of UFC on ESPN 3 was going to be 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 scratched in 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 defined as the newest five-round main event.
It was possibly slightly surprising to see the UFC book this rematch at the point of time, with Romero coming off of a split decision loss to Robert Whittaker in his last struggle and Souza a KO win over Chris Weidman, but looking at the state of the middleweight division more closely the struggle is logical. With Kelvin Gastelum combating Israel Adesanya in 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 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 available to fight in April, this rematch between Romero and Souza was the way to go to the UFC.
The very first time Romero and Souza fought was back in UFC 194 at December 2015 (the same night Conor McGregor knocked out Jose Aldo), with Romero edging out a narrow split decision. Since then, Romero has gone 2-2 in the Octagon to Whittaker bookmarked by KO wins within Luke Rockhold and the aforementioned Weidman. Souza, meanwhile, has gone 4-2 since then with endings 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 remain at the peak of the middleweight division, and also 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 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 branch, not to mention one of the best MMA fighters ever to haven’t fought for a UFC title.
In terms of the chances for this rematch, I am anticipating something near a Select Celtics using a slight lean towards Romero just because he was already training for this card and since he won the first fight. Nevertheless, the first fight was only three rounds, and these two rounds could prove to be the gap in the rematch now around. It’s likely to be a fight that is great irrespective of who gets their hand raised.
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