SPOLIGHT: Yoel "Soldier of God" Romero
Featured Image Credit: Florida MMA Events
As a continuation of our UFC 221 coverage, we move onto the main event, an Interim Middleweight Title fight between Yoel Romero and Luke Rockhold. Today, we cover Yoel Romero.
Yoel Romero is a special athlete. He was a former WORLD champion wrestler, silver medalist OLYMPIAN, and is fighting for a title (while interim) at 40 YEARS OLD! It's wild. For a long time, Romero represented Cuba in international competition, where he won the 1999 World Championships and took a silver medal in the 2000 Olympics. After competing in his last World Championships in 2007, he defected for Cuba and remained in Germany, the place of the tournament. He then slowly began to transition into MMA, making his debut 2 years later. The first 4 fights of his career were overseas in Poland and Germany, but then he got a call to fight Rafael Cavalcante in Strikeforce, where he was sadly defeated and suffered a neck injury that required him to miss two years in the cage. By the time he came back, he entered the UFC.
Returning to fighting in 2013, he began an impressive streak of 8 straight wins in the UFC, leading him to headline UFC 213 against Robert Whittaker, where he suffered his second loss of his professional career. On his way to a title shot, Romero fought elite names, such as Derek Brunson, Lyoto Machida, Jacare Souza, and Chris Weidman. He did it in spectacular fashion, too: he won 6 of those 8 in a row by KO, and two were by flying knee. He has shown that he is a freak athlete and his wrestling is next level, and due to Whittaker's injury, he was asked to step in for this weekend's main event.
Across from him on Saturday night will be Luke Rockhold, former 185 lb king who was dethroned by Michael Bisping. Since then, he's battled injuries, but those issues seem to now be a thing of the past, and he is coming off of a great performance against David Branch in September. Rockhold is seen to have few faults, showing the evolution of the sport. He's tall, long, and has a variety of weapons on the feet and on the ground. If Romero decides to take it to the ground, he will have to be careful of Rockhold's Jiu-Jitsu, as he has won 10 by submission. Should he keep it standing, he has to watch out for the barrage of kicks and long hooks from the former champion. If I'm Romero, I'd look for a takedown and try to put yourself in a position to eliminate the threat of a sub and work some ground and pound, tiring Rockhold. Then, as time goes, on, go for a wild flying knee or another explosive strike that always seems to work. It won't be easy, but Romero is well up for the challenge.
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