One of the main card matchups at UFC Fight Night 31 is a middleweight bout between Yoel Romero and Ronny Markes. The current betting line for the fight at Several Bookmakers lists Romero as a -190 favorite (bet $190 to win $100), while Markes is a +165 dog (bet $100 to win $165). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas originally opened Romero at -115 and Markes at -125, meaning the early public and sharp money has come in on the Cuban Romero. I agree with the line movement, as I will also be picking Romero to win this fight. Here’s why. Romero (4-1) won a silver medal in freestyle wrestling for his native Cuba at the 2000 Summer Olympics and in 2009 he started his pro MMA career, where he has since picked up four knockout wins. The only loss on Romero’s record came to former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Rafael Cavalcante in Romero’s fifth career fight, so it’s not that bad in hindsight. After losing to Cavalcante, Romero took over a year off and during that time he moved from Germany to Florida to start training at American Top Team, where he dedicated himself to making the move down to middleweight after the UFC absorbed Strikeforce. In Romero’s UFC debut at UFC on FOX 7 earlier this year, he absolutely crushed Clifford Starks with a flying knee in the first round in one of the most explosive one-strike KOs of the whole year. It was a performance that really opened up eyes to this man’s potential, even though he is 36 years old (and who knows, he could be even older). Basically, I would compare Romero to a larger Hector Lombard, who is his best friend and who he grew up with. And that’s a good thing because I am extremely high on Lombard as well. Romero’s second fight in the UFC will be against Markes (14-1), who has won all three of his fights since entering the Octagon in 2011. Markes has impressed in two weight classes — like Romero, he dropped from light heavyweight to middleweight — with his grinding wrestling style, picking up victories over Andrew Craig, Aaron Simpson and Karlos Vemola. At only 25 years of age and training with a great team in Brazil at Nova Uniao, Markes also displays great leg kicks in his fights and he has the potential to climb the ladder at 185 if he keeps winning. However, while his wrestling has looked solid, he has shown some holes in those fights, mainly his chin and his cardio. And that’s not a good thing when being matched up against a guy like Romero who can stop the takedowns and who has more explosive striking. I should also mention that Markes was involved in a car accident this summer and hurt his neck in it, which is why his fight against Derek Brunson in June was scratched at the last minute. He says he’s fine, but I do somewhat question his health. Regardless, I think this is just a bad match-up for Markes as I think Romero will finish him with strikes quickly. When Romero opened at -115, I would have for sure recommended a multi-unit bet, but even at -190, I do think there is value in the Cuban as the first leg of a two-team parlay, because I think he beats Markes, and I think he makes quick work of it too.