The UFC heads to Australia for the first time this season once it sets up shop in Perth for UFC 221. Although the card is far from the sexiest you’ll see, there are still plenty of compelling bouts to stay diehard fans interested.
The main event features Yoel Romero and Luke Rockhold facing off. This bout was for the interim middleweight crown but after Romero failed to make weight, the name will only be on the line for Rockhold. The remaining portion of the card is stuffed with plenty of hometown talent that’ll look to get the crowd in Perth eager for their first event ever.
Yoel Romero vs Luke Rockhold
Romero (+120) is an athletic freak. Despite being 40 years old,”The Soldier of God” has more speed, ability and athleticism than fighters half his age. This is the foundation of Romero’s whole game. In the striking stage, the Cuban just begs and begs for his moment to explode to strikes. It works the exact same because of his wrestling. Romero is an Olympic wrestler and relies on that skill set more than any other but he still prefers to land takedowns with explosiveness rather than grinding it out.
However, Romero has a little gas tank. He’s patient in the Octagon because he burns through his cardio extremely quickly. You can see him visibly breathing after a significant explosion of movement. That is exactly why his whole game is built around controlled bursts of energy resulting in controlling his competitor.
Not to be outdone, Rockhold (-150) is much more athletically gifted than 95 percent of those fighters in the UFC. The former winner is powerful and fast but uses his natural size advantage better than many in the division, whether that is working from range supporting his left hook and body kick or controlling the leverage battle from the clinch. Offensively wrestling isn’t something Rockhold concentrates on — unless working from the clinch — he is just one of the craftier submission fighters in the division.
There are holes in the game of Rockhold. The only minor flaw which sticks out is that his inclination to rely on specific strikes on the toes. He could rely a lot on his left hook and body kick, telegraphing and giving a opportunity to become countered.
Romero is as harmful as they come but his cardio is not really there to compete with Rockhold. “The Soldier of God” can always land a KO shot — he has demonstrated that — but Rockhold’s clinch work will put on Romero down.
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