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UFC 221: Rockhold vs Romero


wandshogun09
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On Saturday 10th February the Octagon lands in Perth, Australia. Lock up your Sheilas, Yoel & Ray are coming to town.

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PPV MAIN CARD
Luke Rockhold vs Yoel Romero - Interim Middleweight Title

Mark Hunt vs Curtis Blaydes 

Tai Tuivasa vs Cyril Asker

Jake Matthews vs Li Jingliang 

Tyson Pedro vs Saparbek Safarov

 

FOX SPORTS 1 PRELIMS
Damien Brown vs Dong Hyun Kim 

Rob Wilkinson vs Israel Adesanya 

Alexander Volkanovski vs Jeremy Kennedy 

Jussier Formiga vs Ben Nguyen

 

FIGHT PASS PRELIMS
Ross Pearson vs Mizuto Hirota

Teruto Ishihara vs Jose Alberto Quinonez 

Luke Jumeau vs Daichi Abe

 

It might not scream PPV but I think that's a quality card. We're not paying PPV anyway so fuck it. 

Ok, this is going to be a long one.

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Rockhold vs Romero is a fucking fantastic main event. There isn't really a lot of backstory to this fight itself but I've always found the middleweight division to be one of the more interesting and fun to watch weight classes. To see how we got to this point, I'm going all the way back to the beginning of the UFC middleweight division.

There was already technically a division known as 'middleweight' as far back as 1997. But this was pretty much what we now know as light heavyweight. The weight limit was 199lbs for 'middleweight' back in the late 90s and you had the likes of Tito Ortiz, Frank Shamrock, Dan Henderson and Chuck Liddell competing. It was in early 2001 with the Zuffa takeover where we saw the new owners go to the athletic commissions to regulate (because Nate Dogg and Warren G had to) the sport. This was when the new weight classes were introduced and is where middleweight as we know it, 185lbs, began. 

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Dave Menne was the first ever UFC middleweight champion. On September 28th 2001 at UFC 33 he beat Gil Castillo by unanimous decision. And it was a snoozer. UFC 33 is widely regarded as a complete dud of a show. Dana White himself has said it was one of the worst in company history. But, got to start somewhere. And Dave Menne was the first. 

As Biggie once said though, his reign on the top was short like leprechauns. He lost the title in his first defence, to this man;

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Murilo Bustamante TKO'd Menne in the second round of their UFC 35 bout in January 2002. Bustamante went on to successfully defend the belt, beating Matt Lindland in May 2002 at UFC 37 by submission. Twice. And that's not a typo. Bustamante got Lindland in an armbar in the first round, Lindland tapped so Bustamante released the hold. Problem was referee John McCarthy missed it. A rare cock up  from Big John. Lindland denied he tapped so McCarthy let the fight continue. Bustamante then tapped Lindland again in the third round with a guillotine. 

Bustamante was later stripped of the title as he left the UFC to fight for Pride. 

With Bustamante leaving and the belt being vacant, the division was in limbo for a bit at this point. But we still got some great fights and memorable moments during this period.

Like at UFC 39 in September 2002. The night Phil Baroni murdered Dave Menne's face...

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"I'M THE BEST. I'M THE BEST EVAH! I'M THE FUCKING MAN! LINDLAND, BUSTAMANTE YOU'RE NEXT. I'M THE BEST EVAH! EVAH!" - Phil Baroni

Speaking of Baroni...

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His two fight series against Lindland was fantastic. When you think of awesome fights Matt Lindland isn't a name that jumps out at you but these two tore the roof off in both their UFC 34 and UFC 41 fights. Two real forgotten gems from the middleweight division's formative years. They had a great little feud going as well. They were so opposite in personalities and attitudes it was gold. 

Middleweight was pretty thin at this time but you still got some quality fights and looking back over the cards from this period, you had some guys pop up and make a splash like Lee Murray, David Terrell and David Loiseau. All guys I really enjoyed watching when I first got into MMA and they all had promise only to fizzle out for whatever reason. Be it injuries, losses or being involved in a big money heist and ending up locked up in Morocco :p 

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It wasn't until early 2005 that we got a middleweight champ again. Evan Tanner (RIP) beat David Terrell at UFC 51 to take the vacant strap. 

But like the champions before him, he wouldn't hold the title long. He ran into this Jim Carrey lookalike maths teacher from Ohio and it was a wrap; 

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Rich Franklin stopped Evan Tanner in the 4th round of a really good fight at UFC 53 in June 2005 to become the 4th ever UFC middleweight king. Franklin went on to have a good little run with the belt. He brutally KO'd Nate Quarry in a round at UFC 56 in November 2005. Then he defended the belt a second time with a dominant decision over David Loiseau at UFC 58 the following March. 

This was the first time we'd seen a middleweight champ defend the title more than once. Franklin was 22-1 at this point. And having beaten the previous champ Tanner twice already, plus the way he knocked out Quarry and his dominance against Loiseau, it was thought he might hold onto the title for a while. He was also a member of the Miletich camp who were the most successful gym at the time with Matt Hughes and Tim Sylvia holding titles and a young hot prospect named Robbie Lawler knocking heads off. Franklin looked like he might finally be 'the guy' to bring some consistency to the division. 

But then along came a Spider...

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October 14th 2006. UFC 64. Anderson Silva had made his UFC debut in the June, smashing up TUF 1 favourite Chris Leben in under a minute. Prior to that he'd fought in Pride, Cage Rage, Shooto and Rumble On The Rock. He was known as a skilled fighter and the Leben fight was a hugely impressive UFC debut but the thinking still seemed to be 'yeah, but he won't do that to Rich Franklin'. Well, he did. As you can see from the pictures above. He battered Franklin from pillar to post. Bullied him in the Thai clinch, brutalised his body with knees to bring Franklin's guard down, then kneed his face in and crushed his nose in the process. By 2:59 of the first round it was all over. The fight and Franklin's title reign. Over. 

And a new reign had begun. 

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Between 2006 and 2012, Anderson Silva ruled over the middleweight division with an iron fist. And iron elbows, knees and feet. He defended the middleweight title 10 times. It was the record for most successful title defences until Mighty Mouse broke it in October 2017. 

Anderson TKO'd Nate Marquardt in his first defence at UFC 73 in July 2007. He destroyed Franklin again, in Franklin's hometown no less, in the October at UFC 77. He submitted Pride's 185lb champion Dan Henderson in a champ vs champ fight at UFC 82 in March 2008. But he went off the boil for a bit with his lacklustre showings against Patrick Cote and Thales Leites. He redeemed himself by going up to light heavyweight and clowning Forrest Griffin. 

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But even when Anderson couldn't be arsed, there was always something going on elsewhere in the division. And in July 2009 at the milestone UFC 100 event, Dan Henderson delivered one of the most iconic and replayed finishes in MMA history when he knocked Michael Bisping out cold. 

Anderson shat the bed again in his April 2010 title defence against Demian Maia. Just an awful fight. 5 rounds of fuck all. Dana walked out on the fight halfway through and voiced his disgust at the press conference afterwards. 

At the same time, a new contender had emerged in the form of Chael Sonnen. Chael had been knocking around for years at this point. Won some, lost some. Had a bit of a shit UFC run previously where he was mostly known as the guy Babalu Sobral submitted. He was a longtime Team Quest member but had never reached the heights of his teammates Randy Couture, Matt Lindland and Dan Henderson. At this stage he was in danger of falling into that role of career journeyman. He had success in WEC and that got him back in the UFC. He lost to Demian Maia in early 2009 and then something seemed to change with him. In May 2009 at UFC 98 he beat Dan Miller on points. OK. Then in October 2009 at UFC 104 he beat Yushin Okami. Now Okami at this time was one of the top 185ers in the world and was being talked about for a shot at Anderson. This was a big win. Then at UFC 109 in February 2010, Chael took a decision off a Nate Marquardt who was in the form of his career and also on the cusp of a title shot. Chael battered him with ground and pound for large spells and also showed heart to gut through a nasty cut and a tight guillotine to win the decision. 

Chael had also started talking mad shit about Anderson Silva in the run up to the Marquardt fight. And after Anderson's crappy showing against Maia, Chael just blistered him and insulted him every time he was near a microphone. To the point the fight just had to be made. His quality wins over Okami and Marquardt combined with newfound love for fight promotion just made the UFC's choice an easy one. 

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Silva vs Sonnen went down on August 7th 2010. It ended up being one of the most dramatic fights ever and probably Anderson's career defining moment (in cage anyway, more on that later). Chael, as he'd promised, took the fight to Anderson like nobody had before. He shocked everyone by buckling Anderson with a punch in the first round and then took him down at will repeatedly and controlled him with wrestling and ground and pound. Chael fought the perfect fight. For 4 and a half rounds. But one lapse in the 5th was all the opportunity Anderson needed and he caught Chael in a triangle choke for the tap. 

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Absolutely mental ending. 

If that wasn't Anderson's career defining fight, then this was...

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In his next defence at UFC 126, Anderson knocked out Vitor Belfort with a front kick to the chin in the first round. This knockout has been replayed everywhere forever. It's been all over UFC merch from the cover of books to the loading screens on their video games, the lot. Always a mainstay on that Teenage Wasteland montage at the live events as well. Unforgettable KO. I still vividly remember watching it live as it happened with my brother. Basically the JFK assassination moment of the UFC. Everyone remembers where they were when Anderson heeled Vitor's chin into the rafters, don't they? 

After mopping the Octagon with Yushin Okami in Brazil at UFC 134, the big rematch was next...

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Silva vs Sonnen 2! It just had to happen. Chael had rattled off wins over Brian Stann and Michael Bisping since the first fight. And he hadn't stopped talking shit about Anderson. If anything, he'd upped the verbal assault. The rematch was massive. It had a brilliant build up and did around a million buys on PPV. The fight itself wasn't a patch on their first meeting though. Chael started off well, with the first round looking much like the first fight. Chael was dominating with his wrestling. It all went tits up in the second though. Chael missed a reckless spinning backfist (still all these years later, WTF were you doing Chael?) and Anderson swarmed all over him, stopping him with a knee to the chest and follow up punches. That was the end of Chael Sonnen in the title picture. 

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In 2013 we saw the true results of what chemical engineering can do for you in MMA. Behold TRT Vitor Belfort! Absolutely terrifying. He fought 3 times in 2013. He knocked out Michael Bisping with a headkick in January. In May he spin kicked the head off Luke Rockhold. And in November he headkicked Hendo into oblivion. All while looking like a Hasbro. It was wrong but I can't deny I miss TRT Vitor a bit. The USADA fun police had to come in and blow the candles out on Belfort's juice party though. 

2013 also saw the reign of Anderson Silva finally come crashing to a halt.

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Chris Weidman capitalised on Anderson's showboating and switched his lights out with a big left hook in the second round of their UFC 162 title fight in July 2013. Massive. 

A lot of people were quick to call it a fluke or a lucky punch, which I still say is complete and utter bollocks. But given the length of Anderson's reign and the shit people were talking about flukes and stuff after the fight, the immediate rematch was always going to happen. 

Weidman vs Silva 2 took place at UFC 168 in December 2013. Weidman showed in the first round that their first fight was no fluke. He dominated the round, outwrestled Anderson, knocked him down with a punch and nearly finished him. Then in the second round...

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Ugh. It still makes me wince. Anderson threw a leg kick, Weidman checked it and Anderson's leg shattered against Weidman's knee. Fucking grim. 

In Anderson's absence and with a new champ in Chris Weidman, the division moved on and entered a new era. Weidman beat Lyoto Machida by decision at UFC 175 in his first defence in a tremendous fight. 

By this point we also had some new blood in the 185 ranks as well. High level fighters like Jacare Souza, Gegard Mousasi, Luke Rockhold and Tim Kennedy had been snapped up by the UFC when Strikeforce went down. But my favourite of the new crop of middleweights was this bastard...

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Yoel 'Soldier Of God' Romero. A freak wrestler from Cuba who had explosive power and was unpredictable in his attacks. He got a late start in MMA and was only 4-1 when he came to the UFC. He beat solid opposition early in his UFC run but he didn't truly get on my radar until he did this...

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Fuck the controversy of him sitting on the stool too long and all that carry on. Yoel kicking Tim the Twat Kennedy's arse all over the cage at UFC 178 made me a fan for life. 

Anderson came back in January 2015 with a feel-good win in an entertaining fight against Nick Diaz. Then it started.

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Anderson started to become an embarrassment. His USADA drug tests for the Diaz fight came back dirty and he got suspended for a year. It was a big blow considering many thought of him as the greatest MMA fighter of all time, a legend, a class act and an ambassador for the sport. Then on top of that he found a way to make it even more sad when he claimed he never cheated and that the dodgy test results were because of some dick pills he'd been having. 

The division kept rolling. Weidman defended the belt a second time in May 2015, TKOing the post-TRT Dadbod Vitor at UFC 187. Yoel Romero battered Lyoto Machida in June 2015 then declared his love for Gay Jesus in his rambling Iron Sheik-like post-fight interview. 

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In December 2015 at UFC 194, the title would change hands again. Weidman's days on the throne were over as Luke Rockhold beat him down with a TKO stoppage. 

Anderson returned in February 2016, and lost an upset decision in an incredible war against Michael Bisping in London. 

Then at UFC 199 in June 2016, in Rockhold's very first defence...

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Career-long nearly man Michael Bisping came in on 10 days notice and KO'd Rockhold in the first round. 

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Bisping was such a prick rubbing Smug Luke's nose in it as well. It was great! 

In November 2016 the UFC were finally able to cut through the political red tape in New York and held their first ever show at Madison Square Garden. 

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And my boy Yoel arguably stole the show with his highlight reel flying knee KO on Chris Weidman. 

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Then Yoel, via the great Ray the Translator, called out the champ Michael Bisping. 

"I LOVE YOU MIKE. I LOVE YOU. SEE YOU SOON, BOY!"

Unfortunately he wouldn't see him soon. Bisping injured his knee and was out almost a whole year. We basically got a year of all the top 185ers calling out Bisping while Bisping sat doing this...

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...while routinely telling them all to fuck off on his podcast.

In April, Aussie Robert Whittaker surprised the MMA world when he outclassed and finished Jacare Souza on FOX. With the champ out injured, the UFC did their favourite thing. They created an interim title. The top 2 contenders - Romero and Whittaker - would face off at UFC 213 in July 2017. With the winner unifying the titles in a fight against Bisping on his return.

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Whittaker once again exceeded expectations, beating Romero on points and putting in a stellar performance even with a dodgy knee. 

So Bisping vs Whittaker, right? Wrong. The UFC had bigger, Canadian, fish to fry. 

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GSP was coming back. As a middleweight. Bisping's knee was better. And the next MSG PPV was right around the corner and needed a main event. Books itself, doesn't it? 

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GSP solidified himself as the best ever. Coming back after 4 years out, going up in weight and winning a second division's gold by choking Bisping unconscious. Legend. 

Speaking of legends, where's Anderson Silva in all this? 

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Embarrassing himself again, of course. This time he had to be pulled from a scheduled November main event against Kelvin Gastelum in China because USADA got him again. 

In what turned out to be very poor judgement, Bisping stepped in against Gastelum in China, just weeks after losing to GSP. And got his head taken off with a monster left hook in the first round :( 

In the meantime, Luke Rockhold had rebounded from his loss to Bisping with an impressive win over David Branch in September. 

GSP relinquished the middleweight belt, presumably because he wants to go back down and reclaim welterweight/get that McGregor fight etc. So Whittaker's interim belt was upgraded to the real thing.

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And his first defence would be a homecoming in Perth, against Luke Rockhold.

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I was really looking forward to seeing how these two matched up. Especially given how Whittaker stepped up his game in the Jacare and Romero fights. But it wasn't to be. Whittaker got hit with an injury. 

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But every cloud. Now Yoel's back in the game! 

Fuck, that went on longer than I planned. Can't wait for this fight though. Got a bad feeling Rockhold is going to win. I think his lankiness is going to cause Romero some real headaches and there's really no safe route to take. I just hope Romero explodes with something Rockhold doesn't see coming and wipes him the fuck out. 

 

Suppose I should touch on the undercard. 

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Mark Hunt vs Curtis Blaydes doesn't feel like a PPV co-main event at all, does it? Hunt yeah but Blaydes? Whatever though, this should be bags of fun. Hunt hasn't fought since he stopped the Black Beast in June. He's a true combat sports legend. One of my all time favourite fighters. Blaydes is the much younger man at 26. And he's a big lump at 6'4". He's 9-1 in MMA with his only loss coming at the cement hands of Francis Ngannou. Dangerous fight for Hunt this. And for Blaydes it's a huge opportunity. I hope Hunt's OK. He was pulled from the Tybura fight in November over concerns about comments he made in the media about memory loss and slurred speech. Always a worry. Ideally, he scores a quick walkaway KO here and retires in the cage. That would be very fitting, especially in Australia. But you just know he's going to fight forever. 

 

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Tai Tuivasa vs Cyril Asker is another heavyweight slobberknocker waiting to happen. I've mentioned a few times on here that I really like what I've seen of Bam Bam Tuivasa so far. He's only 24, 6-0 with 6 knockouts and looked great in his UFC debut knocking out Rashad Coulter with a flying knee that could take down a block of flats. It was vicious. And surprising see such a big fat guy show such agility. He's one to watch. Asker I know less about. He's French, 32 years old with a 9-3 record. He's got a 2-2 UFC record so no world beater but he is a BJJ brown belt so could possibly ask some questions of Tuivasa's grappling game. 

 

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Jake Matthews vs Li Jingliang should be decent at least, with potential to be excellent. Matthews is one of the unsung prospects on the roster to me. Only 23 years old and a BJJ black belt. 11-3 record. He's had some losses but 2 of them were to Kevin Lee and James Vick who are climbing the ranks now. It's all experience and he's still got time. Jingliang is going to be a hard fight though. He's on a good 4 fight win streak and has stopped some solid fighters like Dhiego Lima and Zak Ottow. 

 

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Tyson Pedro vs Saparbek Safarov is going to be fun. I really like Pedro so far. He's got a long way to go but he's fun to watch and has a likeable charisma to him. Interested to see how he looks here as well coming off his first loss last time out against Latifi. Safarov is granite tough as well. He had a crazy fight against Gian Villante a while back where he took an ungodly beating and kept pushing forward. He doesn't seem particularly skilled from what I recall, but he's rock hard. 

 

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Rob Wilkinson vs Israel Adesanya is getting the ***WAND'S ONE TO WATCH*** treatment this time. And I can't even really remember Wilkinson. This one is all about the UFC debut of Israel Adesanya. He's a decorated and highly ranked kickboxer who fought in GLORY. His kickboxing record stands at 50-5-1. On top of that, he's 11-0 in his MMA career as well. With 11 knockouts, including a first round KO over Melvin Guillard in July. The man's a beast. He's training BJJ under Andre Galvao as well, he's still only 28 despite all his fighting experience and a Nigerian born New Zealander so he'll basically be treated as a hometown guy by the crowd. Really excited to see what he can do in the big leagues of MMA. 

 

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Alexander Volkanovski vs Jeremy Kennedy was supposed to happen on the Sydney card in November but Kennedy pulled out injured. Hopefully it goes ahead this time. Volkanovski is a little tank, I enjoy watching him but he hasn't had much luck so far with guys pulling out of fights and having to fight late replacements and stuff. 

 

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Jussier Formiga vs Ben Nguyen could be a darkhorse show stealer, I reckon. Love watching these two. Formiga has had a bit of a patchy run lately but he's a good fighter, especially on the ground. And Nguyen is great to watch. He's coming off a huge 49 second submission win over Tim Elliott in June. High hopes for this one. 

 

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Ross Pearson vs Mizuto Hirota down on Fight Pass might be worth a gander. Pearson's recent record is terrible. Like, really bad. I knew he'd lost a few lately but didn't realise just how far he'd fallen until I just looked up his record. He got KO'd by Dan Hooker last time out, lost his last 4 fights and 7 of his last 10! Fuck man. I hope he can pull something back. Always liked Pearson but it's difficult to envision him getting out of this slump. 

 

If you've read all that then fair play. I wouldn't have. 

 

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Come on, Yoel!! 

Edited by wandshogun09
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9 hours ago, wandshogun09 said:

His two fight series against Lindland was fantastic. When you think of awesome fights Matt Lindland isn't a name that jumps out at you but these two tore the roof off in both their UFC 34 and UFC 41 fights. Two real forgotten gems from the middleweight division's formative years. They had a great little feud going as well. They were so opposite in personalities and attitudes it was gold. 

Baroni also had an animated 2 fight series with Tanner. The rematch was a bit of a letdown, but their first fight at UFC 45 was chaotic.

 

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Wonderful work, wand. Handsome Luke can wait, 'mon Yoel!

I'm proper intrigued to see how this plays out. I see Rockhold as having more weapons, but Yoel can just as easily land some 360 jumping knee of doom, right as it looks like Rockhold is taking over. I can see Rockhold having some surprising success on the ground too, should it go that way.

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Yeah, cock up.

Technically both titles are interim, really. Bit of a mess. Sucks that an interm title becomes the real one because Dana says so and because someone won their interim belt a few months before the other interim belt.

I guess doing an (unofficial) interim v interim title match, in the future, feels like they've actually crowned a proper official champion. Rather than going to default because the actual champ couldn't be arsed with it.

Edited by ColinBollocks
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Immense write up Wand, fantastic stuff.

Not as in love with this fight as I was with Rockhold vs Whittaker truth be told. Really thought that one had a bit more intrigue behind it as I'd definitely consider them the two most skilled middleweights in the world at the moment. At the moment I've got Rockhold edging it out, I'd consider him the more rounded fighter with more tools in his arsenal as well as having a fairly big size/range advantage. I can't see Romero being that keen on taking it to the ground either with Luke's BJJ game either, his best chance of winning is to land something mental like a 720 tornado kick.

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If I was a paido, there would have been the easiest post upvote ever for your card breakdown there Wand. An incredible amount of time and effort put into writing something interesting for us all to pore over and that will drive discussion. Great work, as always. 

As for the event, my heart says Yoel and Hunt. Head says Rockhold and Blaydes. I'm well looking forward to seeing Adesanya and Li Jingliang. They could be two men with bright futures. 

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I've got a ticket for this card, trying to stay positive about it.  Thanks for that wand, you've helped lift my degree of excitement a touch!  However it feels like any other card they've been putting on around Australia / NZ but with a proper fight at the top of it.  Just hope it stays together now.  It really needed a better co-main. Shame for the UFC to bomb on the momentum they've been quietly building since Demetrious Johnson headlined a PPV. 

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On 1/16/2018 at 3:17 PM, Egg Shen said:

How much do then Aussie fans get behind their fighters Ox? I love it when a card may look a little stale on paper but it ends up being fought in front of a hot audience because they've gotten behind their fighters.

Pretty good, I'd say mate. I was down in Melbourne for Whittaker vs Brunson and the crowd was hot, and all the 'home' fighters were given good encouragement.  But Perth might be completely different. Generally a more laid back city and they've just lifted the ban on MMA in cages in the State - so I can't imagine its been a good breeding ground for the fanbase there.  Saying that - the card (initially) sold out very quickly.  I had to get top brass seats within 20 mins of them going on sale. The start time won't help either to be honest, I think the main event will probably be at 1.30pm local time on a Sunday. 

Edited by OzExile
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Yeah, Aussies get fired up for their local fighters. I think that's why the card got the shaft a bit, as far as PPVs go, UFC figured out that the crowds go crazy for fellow Aussies (and even Kiwis, somewhat begrudgingly). There was a little discontent on social media with the card being thin, but at the show, we're going to support our guys 110%. At the Sydney Fight Night in November, Damien Brown was treated like a king, even though he seems to be among the lower tier of lightweights in the UFC. Brown fighting like a mad bastard probably helped his case too.

Annoying nitpick alert- they aired a nice little video package for UFC 221 on 220, and while it was generally a good one, they had a bit of a gaffe with some of the graphics. Behind the names of "ROMERO" and "ROCKHOLD" in the video, you can see the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Perth is on the other side of the country. It's not a big deal, but it is the equivalent to hosting a PPV in Los Angeles and using images of the Statue of Liberty in the hype.

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This is next week! How we seeing it going down then? I've voted Rockhold by decision in the poll. Obviously, I'm hoping I'm wrong on that but I just think he'll be too long, to slick and too well rounded for Yoel, and if it goes the distance  I think he'll hold up better conditioning-wise as well. Hope Yoel takes his head off though. 

Here's a nifty little promo;

And here's a John Danaher quote that perfectly assesses what a freak Yoel Romero is. 

"Yoel Romero is probably the most uncontrollable man in the universe. He is a difficult, difficult person to control in any aspect of the fight. Some parts of what he does make no sense. Like, he's one of the greatest wrestlers of his generation, and yet many people take him down. He gets taken down all the time but they can't control him, he just springs back up. There's no consequence to it, he can just get up whenever he feels like it.

He has a greater propensity to change direction, at speed, than anyone else I've ever seen in my life. People always talk about speed. There's two kinds of speed that impress me in fighting. One is the speed of decision making. If you can make good decisions faster than you're opponent you're going to win a lot of fights. And the other is your ability, not to go in straight lines at speed, but to change direction. Speed of directional change is the most important kind of physical speed in fighting. That's the kind of speed that counts in fighting. The thing about Yoel Romero is there's a certain twitchiness to his movement, where it's so hard to read where he's going, where he's going to be in the next half second, it's just a handful to deal with.

And this is him at 40! What was he like when he was 25? He's a fascinating character."

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Yeah, Rockhold for me too. I see Rockhold having more weapons, and being the bigger man I can't see Yoel having much luck wrestling Rockhold. In fact, when it comes to MMA wrestling Rockhold has probably had a better time of it during his career, at a high level.

Yoel relies so much on exploding with mad shit that his opportunities can be limited should you play to eradicate the risks early doors. Easier said than done, of course, but you know Yoel will fade after two rounds.

I'm very much Team Yoel (& Rey The Translator), so hope I'm very wrong.

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