The Severe Diagnosis: UFC Fight Night – Machida vs. Romero

yoel romero

Following a whirlwind week of ups and downs in the world of mixed martial arts it was back down to brass tacks on Saturday night as Hollywood, Florida hosted the latest of the UFC’s fight night events.

Romero KOs Lyoto

Although the card was ravaged by pull outs due to late visa issues, we still were treated to a top quality main event between two of the best middleweights in the world, even if the support cast was lacking in much depth. That headliner, between former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida and Cuban Olympic wrestling silver medalist Yoel Romero, promised much in the build-up and delivered in practice.

As is always the case in Lyoto Machida fights, the Brazilian was on his bike, out of range early as he circled around with his opponent in center cage. A couple of kicks to the body from Machida were the opening shots of the bout while Romero answered back with a few kicks of his own, to the body and legs, to keep his scoring ticking over. After a long period of feeling out, the first real heavy attack came from Machida midway through the round as the karate stylish struck with a blistering body kick. Romero didn’t seem too perturbed, though, and soon after barely missed with a left hand before, moments later, an overhand right put “The Dragon” off balance. After that Machida clearly upped his movement and became very hard to hit as the pair finished out the round swinging kicks, most of which were off target, from distance.

Romero looked more intent on attacking early in the second and, immediately out of the gate, both men landed with stiff straight left hands which caused them to disengage. A series of leg kicks from Machida followed that but Romero gave back exactly what he got. The left hand of Machida looked dangerous early in the period but the defence of Romero held up well as the Brazilian used his usual fast-twitch, in-and-out attacks to keep the Cuban at bay.

Machida stance changes were a big part of the second period but a big flying knee, which was just off target, and a hard right hand from Romero forced him to reestablish his usual southpaw stance. As the round progressed it was clear that Romero was taking over as three straight left hands had the movement of Machida quelled and, as he felt the pain near the end of the round, Romero dived in with a right handed Showtime punch followed by a left hook which had Machida rocked right on the bell.

A jab right to the chin of Machida had the Brazilian backing up within ten seconds of the third round as Romero grew in confidence. A hard leg kick from Romero followed that but Machida was able do his usual circling away to give him time to recover. As was the case throughout the fight, body kicks were traded from distance as neither man made too many parlays into his opponent’s wheelhouse – although that was about to change.

A leg kick from Machida seemed to have him back in his rhythm but a slight stutter as he circled away allowed Romero to clinch up, get a body lock and muscle the Brazilian to the mat. Romero landed in side control when they initially went horizontal but Machida quickly established a half guard although that really didn’t matter as Romero saw his opportunity from there and devastatingly took it. A punch with the left followed by one with the right had Machida searching for a way to stop Romero but that did nothing but leave openings. Three short elbows from Romero had Machida’s head bouncing backwards, the 4th put him to sleep while the fifth and sixth landed just before referee Herb Dean had time to step in and stop the fight. It was by far the best display of Romero’s career to date and elevates him to within a fight of a shot at the gold.

Unfortunately, the performance was blighted, at least briefly, by his post-fight interview where “The Soldier Of God” seemed to denounce America and their recent legalization of gay marriage although he later backtracked and said he was misheard. You can make up your own mind on this one (see tweet below).

Underwheling Undercard

This card was undoubtedly a one-fight event but there was a couple of fun fights on the undercard despite a lot of the night being slow and monotonous. The biggest moment of the whole night, outside of the main event, came after just 29 seconds of the fight between Steve Bossé and Thiago Santos. Bosse, a former Hockey enforcer, came out attacking early but was caught with a huge blindside left head kick which put him down and out cold. As well as that there was a late submission win for Carlos Antonio Jr. over former TUF champion Eddie “Truc” Gordon while Lorenz Larkin finished Argentina’s Sergio Ponzinibbio with a brutal, prolonged attack in the very first round.

That was after the prelim headliner which saw Alex “Cowboy” Oliveira come in on short notice to win a pretty straightforward decision over Joe Merritt for this third win of the calender year so far while the stand-out fight on the early portion of the card was undoubtedly the meeting of Tony Sims and Steve Montgomery where, after an impressive early start, the heavily mulleted Montgomery caught Sims with a huge knee which rocked him to his boots. Amazingly, though, Montgomery didn’t go in for the kill and less than a minute later was knocked out by a jaw crushing overhand left hand from an ecstatic Sims.

Check out the full results:

Yoel Romero def. Lyoto Machida via knockout – Round 3, 1:38
Lorenz Larkin def. Santiago Ponzinibbio via TKO – Round 2, 3:07
Antonio Carlos Junior def. Eddie Gordon via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 3, 4:37
Thiago “Marreta” Santos def. Steve Bosse cia knockout – Round 1, 0:29
Hacran Dias def. Levan Makashvili cia split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)

Alex Oliveira def. Joe Merritt cia unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Leandro Silva def. Lewis Gonzalez cia unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Tony Sims def. Steve Montgomery cia TKO – Round 1, 2:43
Sirwan Kakai def. Danny Martinez ciaunanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Podcaster, lead MMA writer and analyst for SevereMMA. Host of the SevereMMA podcast, out every Sunday. Economics and Mathematics graduate from UCC. Also write for Sherdog. Previously of hov-mma and fightbooth. As heard on 2FM, Red FM, Today FM and more. Follow me on twitter for updates @SeanSheehanBA and on Facebook Facebook.com/seansheehanmma