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Yoel Romero vs. Luke Rockhold – UFC 221 Main Event
Saturday, February 10 – 11:50 pm ET / 4:50 am GMT
Despite this main event being a last-minute development, Yoel Romero vs. Luke Rockhold is undoubtedly one of the best matchups to be made in the UFC right now.
Originally, the plan was for Robert Whittaker to defend his UFC Middleweight Championship against Luke Rockhold in front of his fans in Perth, Australia, but a combination of injuries to the champion forced him to withdraw from the bout.
Yoel Romero is possibly the most explosive fighter in all of mixed martial arts. The former Olympic wrestler has smoothly transitioned into MMA and was undefeated until running into Robert Whittaker in his most recent bout. Romero showcased many of his abilities throughout the five rounds, however, and damaged Whittaker’s knee with a stomping kick in the first round.
Luke Rockhold goes from having to face the champion in Robert Whittaker to meeting the monstrous Romero in a contest that isn’t easier by any standard. Rockhold is regarded for his excellent kicking ability, in particular, his kick to the body, and also for his extremely heavy top pressure that he applies once securing a takedown or out-scrambling an opponent.
Both Romero and Rockhold have very specific pathways to victory. Romero’s most probably chance of victory comes through connecting with a knockout blow while standing. Rockhold has continually shown that his defense needs improvement. In Rockhold’s last bout, he struggled with the output of David Branch. Fans will also remember Rockhold being knocked out by Michael Bisping not that long ago, either. Romero has a number of ways to achieve this, but it seems more likely to occur earlier in the fight as the Cuban is known for his tendency to fatigue as the fight progresses.
Despite Romero’s insane wrestling ability, it remains to be seen whether he can shake Rockhold’s top pressure. If Rockhold ends up on top of Romero and secures the position, he should be able to finish the fight, similar to the ways he finished Chris Weidman and David Branch recently. Rockhold does have tools while standing, though, and if he connects with a kick to the body he should be able to greatly fatigue his opponent and gain a significant advantage as the two head into the later rounds.
Luke Rockhold opened up as a moderate underdog at 3/2 2.50 +150 1.50 1.50 -0.67 but has since moved into position as a slight betting favorite with odds of 71/100 1.71 -140 0.71 -1.40 0.71 . After opening at 14/25 1.56 -180 0.56 -1.80 0.56 , Yoel Romero has since moved out to 5/4 2.25 +125 1.25 1.25 -0.80 at BetOnline.
This is Yoel Romero’s fight to lose. He has the weapons to cause significant trouble for Luke Rockhold and get the job done inside the first three rounds. As such, he makes for a terrific play as a betting underdog.
Best Bet: Yoel Romero to win – 5/4 2.25 +125 1.25 1.25 -0.80 @ BetOnline
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