UFC Fight Night 35 Fight Breakdown: Yoel Romero (-300) vs. Derek Brunson (+250)

Romero-Yoel One of the fights at UFC Fight Night 35 that I’m most looking forward to is a middleweight fight between Yoel “Soldier of God” Romero and Derek Brunson. The current betting line for this bout at Several Bookmakers lists Romero as a -300 favorite (bet $300 to win $100), while Brunson is a +250 underdog (bet $100 to win $250). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas originally opened Romero as a -245 favorite and Brunson as a +175 dog, meaning so far the betting public is on Romero’s side. I agree with the line movement as I am picking Romero to win his third-straight fight in the Octagon. Here’s why. Romero (6-1) is a super athlete who is finally showing his true potential in MMA at age 36. The Cuban, who won a silver medal in freestyle wrestling for Cuba at the 2000 Olympic Summer Games, is so far 2-0 in the Octagon with two brutal KO victories over Clifford Starks and, most recently, Ronny Markes. Romero showed in both those fights that he is super explosive and dynamic with his striking, and since dropping down to 185 pounds after his lone career loss to Rafael Feijao he’s basically looked unstoppable. The UFC sees potential in Romero as a prospect despite his age and he is being fast tracked up the ladder and towards a title shot. And if he can defeat Brunson like I expect him to, he’ll only be a fight or two away from a date against a top-five opponent. Brunson (11-2) has been a surprise so far in the UFC, defeating both Chris Leben via decision and Brian Houston via KO en route to a pristine 2-0 Octagon record. The 30-year-old Brunson is a good athlete with knockout power on the feet and submission prowess on the ground, as well as serviceable wrestling. In short, he’s pretty well rounded, but his problem is he doesn’t excel in any one area of the game. In his last fight against Houston, he showed that his striking is improving with a highlight-reel head kick knockdown on “B-Hue,” and he showed his killer instinct by taking Houston’s back and choking him out immediately after his opponent hit the floor. But in his two fights prior, to Leben and Kendall Grove, his cardio looked awful and he really wasn’t looking like anything special. It’s nice to see Brunson improve his game, but overall he lacks the elite skills that Romero possesses and I think he’ll need to land a KO blow in order to win this fight. Otherwise, I just can’t see him winning because I doubt he’ll be able to get Romero down and if the fight goes three rounds I think Romero would be the one winning on the scorecards. I believe the wrestling will equal each other out and both fighters will stand and trade in the first round. I believe Romero has more power than Brunson and a better chin as well, so even though Brunson is pretty fast, I still think that Romero is going to be able to clip Brunson with either a punch or a knee and finish him off with strikes in the first round. I definitely like Romero to win this fight but it seems like -300 is a bit too high on him, so for now I’m going to recommend a pass. If some money comes in on Brunson and the line on Romero gets closer to -200, then he might be worth a bet, but for now I’d pass on the moneyline, I’m also looking at UNDER 1.5 rounds, which is currently priced at a Pick ’em, as I see this fight ending pretty early either way, so consider that total if you want some action on the fight.

Written by Adam Martin.

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