Chris Weidman (13-1) vs. Yoel Romero (12-1)
When it comes to the elite at 185lbs it really doesn’t get much better than this match up. We have in Chris Weidman what could have been considered one of the best athletes in recent middle weight memory against a true freak athlete in Yoel Romero.
This fight could easily have happened just a small time ago when Chris Weidman was champion and has in fact been cancelled once already. Thankfully the UFC brass saw what a compelling stylistic match up these two opponents can offer each other and looked to rebook it for the biggest card in UFC history and in Chris Weidmans back yard no less.
Yoel Romero keys to victory
Yoel Romero has been somewhat of an enigma during his short MMA tenure, a cuban Olympic silver medalist in freestyle wrestling as well as a whole laundry list of other wrestling accomplishment really puts him at the top of the middleweight division and potentially the entire UFC when it comes to credentials alone. At 39 years old Yoel will certainly not have cardio on his side and whilst we have certainly seen him empty his gas tank on more than one occasion throughout his career he has also improved the pacing in which he fights. Strangely enough he tends to dip in energy around the start of the 3rd round yet has also managed to finish 7 of his opponents in the last round as well.
On paper of course Yoel is the more accomplished grappler however he tends to use his wrestling much more on the defensive compared to Weidman. Look for Yoel to sit back and throw front kicks up the middle as well as a measuring jab to lure his opponents on the inside, when Weidman commits with strikes look for Yoel to explode with wild hook combinations and flying knees up the middle. When Yoel gets comfortable in a fight its then when he starts to feint and threaten with single legs, body locks and inside trips followed by hellacious ground and pound. People discuss Yoel athleticism advantage as if he is not technical both on the feet and on the ground. Although you can dispute some of his takedown offence AND defence is greatly helped by his sheer power its the nuances in his striking people ignore. See Yoel’s destruction of Lyoto Machida both on the feet and on the ground for evidence.
Chris weidman keys to victory
Chris Weidman may not possess the body of a greek god like Yoel, nor the sheer explosive ferocity of the Cuban destroyer. What he does have is unrelenting will to win coupled with extremely high level durability and slick timing both on the feet and on the ground.
There are some fighting advantages that are both hard to demonstrate and therefore hard to teach and that is timing. Chris Weidman is undoubtedly a slow footed plodding fighter who’s strikes look like they would be seen a mile away. Save for his career humiliating moment where he threw a spinning kick against Rockhold which shortly after led to his demise, Weidman has excellent shot selection as well as natural timing. While he was certainly no faster than Anderson Silva people tend to have forgotten how Weidman out maneuvered and out thought the quicker Muay Thai specialist on route to a massive left hook that separated the spider from consciousness for the first and only time in his career.
Chris does have a tendency to rely on his durability a little too much in recent fights with his march you down forward pressure this is something to be expected. Although against a superbly quick and powerful counter striker such as Romero he needs to be on top of his game. Weidman does possess good boxing fundamentals with fluid combination punching whilst staying in a strong and measured stance. He very rarely puts himself out of position with strikes and will pressure opponents back to the cage where he can begin his wrestling offence. Although noticeable in recent fights is Weidman’s lack of single or double takedowns in the middle of the cage which I attribute to his many knee surgeries.
Conclusion and fight picks
Chris Weidman will be looking to return to the cage with a vengeance to prove his loss to Rockhold was nothing more than a fluke. The problem with Weidmans style is his reliance on forward pressure and durability, something that will have an asterisk next to it in my mind after his sudden reduction in mass as well as his devastating loss to Rockhold where he received over 126 significant strikes on route to a TKO. This style of fighting is not cognisant to a prolonged career especially if you consider what Yoel does to his opponents. While Yoel is 39 years and Chris is 32 I believe they will look a lot more similar in the cage. Chris absolutely must tire Yoel out early which I cannot see him doing in the first opening stanza. Yoel is too quick and hits to hard, this coupled with the wrestling defence which he will show spells a bad night for Weidman.
Youbetyah pick – Yoel Romero decision or signature 3rd round TKO
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