Yoel Romero has demonstrated on several occasions that he’s far more than just a gifted wrestler, but the consensus seems to be that if he hopes to defeat Lyoto Machida on Saturday, he’ll need to put his grappling game to work.
After all, in Machida, Romero will face one of the more elusive, unorthodox strikers in the game. Sure, the Karate master has been bested on his feet before, but many of Machida’s defeats have come against men who either pushed him to the cage, or took him to the ground.
In the latest episode of “UFC Tonight“, former bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz was asked what Romero needs to get done at UFC FN 70, and he said the following:
“Romero has more adjustments to make once this fight starts. He has to at least get one takedown. It’s not he can’t compete standing up, but he’ll get more tired than Machida. Machida works by having movement, using space and using his kicks. But Romero’s the first guy who could state a case that he could handle Machida in the clinch. His credentials are better than Phil Davis and if he gets there, he can do something.”
“Pressure, he has to push Lyoto back against the cage. He has to also score the takedown, and finally, once he’s there, he hast to control the top position.”
There you have it. Of course, the good news for Romero is that he is one of the best wrestlers in MMA, as evidenced by a resume which includes world championships, and oh yeah, an Olympic Silver Medal. But, Machida is a very hard guy to take down, and has defeated some pretty talented wrestlers in the past.
All of this is why Saturday’s fight is such a compelling one. It’s going to be fascinating to see how the strategy plays out, but it’s also a compelling bout because what’s on the line. Romero is hoping to move into the title shot mix, while Machida is gunning to stay there. Since the latter is 37, and Romero’s 38, a win means that much more at this stage of their career.
UFC FN 70 will be hosted by the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida.