Chris Weidman and Yoel Romero both have not fought since UFC 194. Weidman lost his middleweight crown to Luke Rockhold and Romero defeated Ronaldo 'Jacare' Souza via split decision.
The pair will meet on November 12 at UFC 205 in Madison Square Garden, the most famous arena in the world. UFC 205 will be the biggest MMA event ever held and having two world-class fighters face each other is a testament to this truly iconic arena.
The fight between the two could have massive title implications, Weidman (13-1) is currently ranked number two and Romero (12-1) is ranked number four. A win for either fighter could set up a potential title bout against Michael Bisping, as long as the Brit doesn’t get his wish and takes on Georges St-Pierre.
Romero is a well known big hitter 10 of his 12 wins have come via knockout. FightMetric says he has a 54 percent striking accuracy and he lands 3.44 strikes per minute, which is mightily impressive.
Compare that to ‘The All-American’, he has a 45 percent striking accuracy and he lands 3.29 strikes per minute. Combine Romero’s impressive output and immense power, a knockout victory could be on the cards for the ‘Soldier of God’.
When it comes to grappling, both men can say it is their specialty. Weidman is a two-time Division I All-American and Romero is a freestyle Olympic silver medalist. Statistically, Weidman shoots for more takedowns, lands more and boasts a better takedown defence.
However, if the fight were to end up on the ground, Romero has never been submitted and he has never scored a submission victory, so it looks more likely that the fight will be stopped via TKO, KO or a decision victory.
Weidman will want to bounce back
November 12 will be the first time Weidman has stepped inside the Octagon since his TKO defeat to Luke Rockhold at UFC 194. The loss not only meant he lost the middleweight title, but it ended his unbeaten streak, a streak that included two wins against the great Anderson Silva.
When a fighter loses for the first time, everyone questions whether or not that person will ever be the same. Will Weidman be hesitant? Will he learn from the mistakes that cost him his belt? The decision he makes on fight night will be crucial on his quest to reclaim UFC gold.
A rematch with Rockhold was scheduled to take place at UFC 199, but Weidman was forced to pull out due to a cervical disc herniation. Rockhold went on to fight Bisping, but lost the belt due to a first round knockout.
Since Bisping won the title, he has defended the belt once, against now retired UFC legend Dan Henderson at UFC 204.
Prior to that fight, Weidman was critical of the UFC as they allowed Bisping to defend his belt against someone that was ranked number 14 at the time, and Weidman is still not happy with that decision, "That guy had it in his head before the fight, and told himself, 'after I dominate Dan Henderson, I'm going to get on the mic and call out all these four guys and say certain things about them, and it's going to look really cool,” he said.
"But the guy, he shouldn't have done that when you barely beat the No. 14 in the division… to get on the mic like that and call out the top four guys like he just did something impressive, I really thought Dan Henderson should have got his hand raised, so I was embarrassed for him.”
Time is running out for Romero
At the age of 39, this could be Romero’s last chance to earn a shot at UFC gold, as a loss could put his title chances to bed. The task in front of him is a big one; his opponent is regarded as one of the best fighters in the organization.
Romero’s last fight was against Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza at UFC 194. Jacare is one of the best submission artists in the UFC right now, 16 of his 23 MMA career wins have come via submission and the fact Romero managed to survive against a man whose nickname is 'Alligator', is a testament to his superb ground game. The Cuban born fighter went on to defeat Jacare via split decision.
One flaw of Romero is his tendency to fade into the later rounds. Fighting a full 15 minutes has been an issue for him, but strangely, he’s managed to stop four UFC opponents in the third round. His cardio is a real issue and if Weidman, who has tremendous cardio, can survive a potential brawl in the first round, the American’s odds of winning will increase dramatically.
If Romero does earn himself a title shot and Bisping is still champion, Romero may have a hard time agreeing a fight after Bisping refused to fight Romero, "If Yoel beats Chris, I honestly don't think I'll fight Yoel, because he tested positive for steroids," said Bisping, "I read an article recently that said that it takes years for the advantages of taking steroids to get out of your system."
Weidman will have to be wary of Romero’s power, if the American survives and Romero ends up gassing himself out, Weidman will win via third round knockout.