Can "Soldier Of God" Yoel Romero march his way to the UFC Middleweight title?
- Will the middleweight title change hands Saturday night?
Say what you will about Yoel Romero, but the fact of the matter is he's a genetic freak. The Cuban Olympic Medalist is 42 years old (or so he says) and looks better than most half his age. Despite rumors that have hovered over him, he's yet to "pop" for PED's.
The American Top Team middleweight is getting his third crack at the 185 strap, and it might be his last. At least, at middleweight. There's always been speculation that one day relatively soon he'd move up to 205. With the disastrous results that Luke Rockhold and Chris Weidman suffered at that weight he decided better to stay put. Although Anthony Smith and Dominick Reyes have both been successful a division up.
The two wars he went through with Robert Whittaker took a little from both their lives. But "Bobby Knuckles" is more a banger than champion Israel Adesanya is. "Stylebender" is an all around athlete. Even though he's 30 years old, he's a baby still in MMA. That's what makes this fight so intriguing. It really is the irreversible force up against the immovable object. Something here has to give. Providing it doesn't end in a draw.
The only war Adesanya has been in was with Kelvin Gastelum. Kelvin took advantage of some very tiny holes in the "Stylebender's" game. In this one he won't walk out of the cage unscathed either. He will be wobbled. His face will look like a catchers mitt. In Yoel's career he's been in there with just about every type. So while nothing should shock him about Israel, his speed and accuracy might just do that. But a properly timed knee or take down could be the beginning of the end.
Most wrestlers though don't have gas tank issues. Yoel is the unicorn there and fades as time goes on. Proving his size is a blessing and yet a curse as well.
A loss for Yoel might very well signal a necessary move to 205. Even though he'd rather not go up. There would be fresh match-ups, and new rivalries. And most importantly, getting rid of any fears of weight issues. Four days out for UFC 248 weigh-ins and Yoel has double digit pounds to lose. Is it possible? Yes, but it's getting eerily close. If he misses weight; bet your bottom dollar Dana White lays into him about it.
Yoel tends to balloon up when not in a camp. Then in a camp works hard to get down to weight. Perhaps the team at ATT if 185 is where he shall stay; there needs to be a change in thinking. Get him to weight while not in camp. This way when a fight rolls around, during camp they can just concentrate on a fight plan. This in effect will also help with cardio issues.
UFC 248 is an okay top heavy card. Especially with Joanna and Weili as co-main. But it needs an Israel defense. And he's the one that called for Yoel. He could have given the crack to Shahbazyan, run it back with Gastelum, called for Harmansson. If the fight goes off without any bumps in the road, Yoel pulling off the huge upset isn't out of the realm either. Clipping him and then ground and pound, or a takedown followed by some elbows could move the belt from New Zealand to Florida and Cuba. A Romero led 185-pound division would also be beneficial for the possibility of opening up the Cuban market.
We've all seen the explosion in MMA recently in the Antipodes region for the Kiwi people. A Cuban explosion could be huge.
So despite the huge grin and the shrug of the shoulders; this fight is hugely important for Romero. Can as they say "the third times the charm"? Only time will tell.Published 04 Mar 2020, 09:26 IST