UFC 221: Romero vs Rockhold Preview

UFC_221

By Kyler Kuehler

UFC 221: Romero vs. Rockhold will air on February 10, 2018, in Perth, Western Australia.

#1 YOEL “SOLDIER OF GOD” ROMERO (12-2-0) vs #2 LUKE ROCKHOLD (16-3-0)
This is a five-round main event for the interim middleweight championship. Romero brings Muay Thai and wrestling giving him efficient knockout power and well-round grappling control. Rockhold brings kickboxing, Muay Thai, jiu-jitsu, and wrestling giving him knockout power and grappling control. He is a former Strikeforce and UFC Middleweight Champion. Both are efficient strikers and grapplers, but Rockhold seems more hardcore than Romero. Romero’s Olympic wrestling could be of great use. However, Rockhold knows wrestling too, along with jiu-jitsu giving him more grappling power. His striking is deadlier and if Romero is caught in any attacks Rockhold will surely put him away. My prediction: Rockhold wins via TKO in Round 4.

#5 MARK “SUPER SAMOAN” HUNT (13-11-1, 1 NC) vs #9 CURTIS “RAZOR” BLAYDES (8-1-0, 1 NC)
This is a three-round co-main event in the heavyweight division. Hunt brings boxing, kickboxing, and jiu-jitsu giving him hardcore knockout power. Blaydes brings striking and wrestling giving him knockout power and some grappling control. Both are strikers, but Hunt’s boxing is out of this world. Yes, Blaydes can box, but nowhere near as well as Hunt can. The only possible way Blaydes could win is to use his wrestling and bring Hunt to the ground. But Hunt’s takedown defense is better than Blaydes’ wrestling making this fight seem like a bad matchup. My prediction: Hunt wins via knockout in Round 1.

TAI “BAM BAM” TUIVASA (8-0-0) vs CYRIL “SILVERBACK” ASKER (9-3-0)
This is a three-round fight in the heavyweight division. Tuivasa brings boxing giving him knockout power leading him to a perfect record. Asker brings taekwondo and jiu-jitsu giving him knockout power and grappling control. Both have striking power, bur Asker’s striking/taekwondo will not match up to Tuivasa’s boxing. Asker has jiu-jitsu to challenge Tuivasa and stop his boxing. However, Tuivasa will not be taken down so easily. Unless Tuivasa lets his guard down I see this being an easy win for him. My prediction: Tuivasa wins via knockout in Round 2.

JAKE “THE CELTIC KID” MATTHEWS (12-3-0) vs LI “THE LEECH” JINGLIANG (14-4-0)
This is a three-round fight in the welterweight division. Matthews brings striking, jiu-jitsu, and wrestling giving him knockout power and grappling control. Jingliang brings Sanshou, jiu-jitsu, and wrestling giving him knockout power and grappling control. Both have great striking and grappling, but Jingliang’s jiu-jitsu and wrestling are far greater. Matthews has striking, but not enough to challenge Jingliang’s Sanshou leaving him a sitting duck. Unless Matthews can gain top ground control position I really don’t see him outlasting Jingliang’s grappling or striking. My prediction: Jingliang wins via unanimous decision.

#13 TYSON PEDRO (6-1-0) vs SAPARBEK SAFAROV (8-1-0)
This is a three-round fight in the light heavyweight division. Pedro brings boxing, karate, and jiu-jitsu giving him knockout power and grappling control. Safarov brings striking and wrestling giving him knockout power and grappling control. Both are well-rounded, but Pedro has a much better game plan with his boxing and jiu-jitsu. Safarov has the wrestling to use, however, it’s not as good as Pedro’s jiu-jitsu. Safarov might be able to keep the fight standing and try out striking Pedro if he keeps his takedown defense up. But, Pedro is better paced and will wear down Safarov until he can no longer continue. My prediction: Pedro wins via submission in Round 3.