UFC Fight Night 31 Preview: Ronny Markes vs. Yoel Romero

Ronny Markes (14-1, 3-0 UFC) vs. Yoel Romero (5-1, 1-0 UFC)

Two big middleweights get a chance to shine on the main card as Markes and Romero look to both remain unbeaten in the UFC and vault themselves up the middleweight rankings. Markes fights for the fourth time inside the Octagon and is looking to extend a seven-fight win streak. He is coming off a decision win over Andrew Craig at UFC On FX 7 in January. Romero looks to build on a big first-round knockout win over Clifford Starks in his UFC debut at UFC On FOX 7 in April. It was the first trip to the Octagon for Romero and he will be looking for his sixth career win.

Fight Breakdown- Markes has established himself quickly as a rising contender in the middleweight division, and he has quickly become known as one of the bigger 185-pound fighters in the UFC. He cuts a lot of weight to get down to the limit for weigh-ins, and has been known to gain as much as 30-plus pounds before he steps inside the Octagon the next night for the fight. He started his career with seven straight wins before suffering the lone defeat of his career, but he has come back with another seven straight wins, including his last three in the UFC. All three of his UFC wins have come by decision, but he has shown the ability to control the fights with takedowns and ground-and-pound. His UFC debut win came against Karlos Vemola as a light heavyweight, then he made the move down to middleweight. His two wins at 185 pounds have come over Aaron Simpson and Andrew Craig. He was set to fight Derek Brunson in June, but was involved in a car accident on the day of weigh-ins and the fight was cancelled. Against Romero, the Brazillian will be looking for his first stoppage win in the UFC.

Romero is a world class wrestler who won a silver medal in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney in freestyle wrestling as a competitor for Cuba. He has also won medals in the World Championships, and his wrestling credentials can speak for themselves. He may be the best pure wrestler in the sport, or at least among the very best. What has gotten him far in his short MMA career has been his power, and his quick first-round knockout win over Clifford Starks at UFC On FOX 7 in April showed that power. He has scored all five of his professional wins by knockout, and four of them have come in the first round. He does have one loss under his belt as he was finished by Rafael Cavalcante in Strikeforce, but “Feijao” has finished a lot of opponents and was by far the toughest fight of Romero’s short career. Like Markes, Romero does cut a lot of weight to make the middleweight limit.

Markes has been able to win his fights lately by controlling the takedown game and using ground-and-pound. He has scored ten takedowns in his three UFC bouts, but he did struggle in taking down Craig, as he scored on just two of his twelve takedown attempts. He is going to struggle to get Romero down, and he may not be able to as Romero will be the fighter with the edge in the wrestling. That turns the fight into a battle on the feet, and Romero has a ton of power in his frame, and Markes was handily outstruck by Craig. Romero’s ability to set up his threats of shooting for a takedown make his standup much more dangerous, and he has vicious power in his hands and with his knees. Markes does have good takedown defense, and Romero may fake going in for takedowns to counter with some big punches. Markes has good recovery ability on his feet as he survived big shots from Simpson and Craig, but Romero is much more powerful than those two.

Despite Markes having fought 15 times to Romero having fought only six times, this fight is set up for Romero to have the advantage, so Markes will need to rely on his experience to take him towards the win. Markes is coming back from a bad car accident and could be a tad rusty when he steps into the Octagon. Markes has to have good takedown defense and Romero will be able to get him down, and Romero’s power on the feet makes him dangerous. Markes will need to be calm and slow the pace of the fight as Romero attacks quickly and in quick spurts. Markes has a good ground game, and the ground game is something we have yet to see from Romero. It is possible that Markes could pull out a submission if Romero’s top game leaves an opening. Conditioning will be a key as well as since both cut a lot of weight, they will both get tired if this fight drags into the third round. However, with the power that Romero has, it will likely not get that far. Markes will have his chin tested and Romero will be the winner in a quick slugfest.

Why It Matters- This fight will go a long way in determining whether Markes or Romero will be able to move to that next level of competition. Markes has been impressive but hasn’t had a whole lot of excitement in his fights, and perhaps that is why he gets Romero, who has had one fight in the UFC. On the other hand, Romero is plenty of exciting and looks to finish fights quickly and violently. He has the higher ceiling of potential despite being older than Markes, and an impressive knockout win over a fighter who has never been knocked out would shoot him up the ladder quickly. Whatever the outcome of the fight may be, Markes and Romero are both ready to take the next step at 185 pounds with a win.

Prediction- Romero

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