FRANK HYDEN, MMATorch Columnist
I’m going with Luke Rockhold here. Yoel Romero is a physical specimen, but I think Rockhold will be able to do just enough to get the win. I think the fight goes the distance and Rockhold wins 3 rounds to 2 rounds for Romero. I think Romero comes out hot but fades as the fight wears on, allowing Rockhold to capitalize and get the decision. This is an extremely interesting fight but I think Rockhold prevails in a close one.
COLE HENRY, MMATorch Contributor
This is a fight that I wish would have happened a year or two ago but better late than never. Rockhold looked a bit rusty against David Branch in his last fight before pulling it together and stopping Branch with punches in the second round. It was his first fight since losing the middleweight championship, and the only fight he’s had in the last 16 months.
Romero is coming off a loss to current champion Robert Whitaker, the man that Rockhold was originally supposed to face. The middleweight division has been a bit off a mess for a while now, and while this fight doesn’t really clear anything up, it should at least be entertaining.
Rockhold has several advantages going into this fight. He is the taller, longer fighter, the more diverse striker, and I think it’s safe to say that his cardio and submission game is also superior. If this fight makes it past the second round I think that Rockhold’s chances of winning substantially increase. Romero is giving up a lot of size in this fight, but he is an Olympic wrestler, with heavy hands and an all-around ferocious fighting style that makes him dangerous for anybody. Rockhold has been stopped with strikes in all of his career losses and I think that is how Romero will have to get it done if he’s going to win.
Simply put I think that Rockhold is the better fighter and will win unless Romero can knock him out in the earlier rounds. This one will probably be violent, but I think that Romero’s cardio will fail before Rockhold’s chin, and Rockhold will win with a submission in the fourth or fifth round.
RAFFAEL IGLESIAS, MMATorch Contributor
I was really looking forward to the Robert Whitaker versus Luke Rockhold fight. I was very disappointed when the flight was canceled but this very intriguing fight will really make up for it. Both fighters involved get a second chance at the UFC middleweight championship.
Rockhold has the opportunity to regain a belt he lost and Romero has the opportunity to redeem a title fight loss. Rockhold is an incredibly dominant grappler with the ability to stifle his opponents once the fight goes to the mat. He has controlled and dominated some of the very best grapplers in the UFC. This ability will truly be tested up against the unbelievable technique and athleticism of Romero. Romero is an extraordinary talent with unbelievable wrestling skill and pedigree.
I think the winner of this fight will come down to whoever wins the scrambles and is able to impose their will on their opponent. I believe that the scrambles will lead to Rockhold submitting Romero in the later rounds, as Romero he tires. Romero is truly one of the greatest athletes I’ve ever seen in the UFC, but Rockhold has too many overall skills and unbelievable endurance.
RICK MONSEY, MMATorch Contributor
Luke Rockhold will follow a similar strategy that we saw Robert Whittaker take against Yoel Romero back at UFC 221. Hopefully, in this fight Rockhold will not have any issues with his leg like Whittaker did. Speaking of “issues” I think Romero’s stamina will be a big one against Rockhold. Romero will be busy defending against takedowns, longer reach and the height of Rockhold. This all adds up to an empty energy bar for Romero and he will lose a five-round decision.
DYLAN BOWKER, MMATorch Contributor
Yoel Romero has the odd distinction of being in back to back interim title fights. Despite some surface area elements like that, it’s a fun match up. I think certain pundits were dwelling on the negatives at play like Robert Whittaker falling out of the Rockhold bout.
This is a bout that fans have been clamoring for over the years and I’m excited we’re getting it. I imagine Rockhold will aim to keep the distance from Yoel and try to time out those explosive entries from the decorated Cuban wrestler. Luke’s chin hasn’t exactly held up in certain situations and a finisher like Yoel could very well exploit that. Romero is one of the most dangerous 185ers in the world but I see him giving up another decision loss. Rockhold will get the nod from the judges and become a two-time UFC middleweight champion.
SEAN COVINGTON, MMATorch Contributor
Are you kidding me? Luke Rockhold doesn’t have a chance! I fully expect Yoel Romero to KO Rockhold or just ragdoll him on the ground the entire fight.
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