UFC 178 Fight Breakdown: Yoel Romero vs. Tim Kennedy

yoel-romero One of the main card bouts at UFC 178 is a three-round middleweight bout between Yoel Romero and Tim Kennedy. According to the current betting lines available at Several Bookmakers, Romero is a -125 favorite (bet $125 to win $100) while Kennedy is a +115 underdog (bet $100 to win $115). MMA linesetter Nick Kalikas opened up Kennedy at -130 and Romero at -110, and the betting public has flipped the line as overall action has come in on Romero, who is now the favorite. This is a competitive fight and I could realistically see it going either way, but I believe the value lies in Kennedy as the underdog. Here’s why. Romero (8-1) is one of the emerging contender at 185lbs. At 37 years old, the Cuban is finally starting to come into his own and he looks like a true title contender. Romero is 4-0 so far in the UFC with wins over Brad Tavares, Clifford Starks, Derek Brunson and Ronny Markes and a win over the top-five ranked Kennedy would certainly shoot Romero into the title picture. A former Olympic freestyle wrestler, Romero is a freak athlete with extreme explosiveness and the ability to change a fight on a dime. His offensive takedown ability is elite, and he has knockout power in all of his limbs. A member of American Top Team, Romero has a muscular frame but he’s shown surprisingly-great cardio in the UFC for someone with his build, having scored two third-round knockout wins. If his cardio continues to look good against Kennedy and he’s able to work his takedowns and striking in for 15 full minutes, he certainly could put on a show. But if Kennedy is able to take him down like Brunson did and grind on him a bit, it’s possible Romero could tire out and we know that Kennedy is a proven 25-minute fighter. Romero’s ability to improve from fight-to-fight is hard to bet against right now, and that’s why the bettors are backing him here, but he’s still not proven against the elite middleweights and until he is, he likely shouldn’t be a favorite over someone proven in the top five like Kennedy. Kennedy (18-4) is one of the top-five middleweights in the world at the moment after having been underrated his entire career. At 35 years of age, the American Kennedy is the best fighter he’s ever been right now. He’s 3-0 so far in the UFC with wins over Roger Gracie, Rafael Natal, and Michael Bisping, and overall is on a four-fight win streak. Kennedy’s offensive wrestling looked fantastic against Bisping, who is one of the top defensive wrestlers in the division, and if he can replicate that performance against Romero he could be in good shape to earn the upset. Overall he’s one of the best grapplers in the division with a strong wrestling game as well as an underrated submission game, and there are few fighters who are able to match him in terms of workrate in the grappling department. Along with that, Kennedy is also improving on the feet with his striking and with an iron chin that has never let him down, Kennedy is able to stand and bang with the best of them. This fight against Romero is Kennedy’s chance to eliminate a top up-and-comer from breaking through, and if Kennedy can win the fight in impressive fashion he could be only a fight or two away from a UFC middleweight title shot. In my opinion, Kennedy should be the favorite in this fight, so as an underdog he looks to have betting value. Romero has all the wrestling credentials, but as far as MMA wrestling goes I believe Kennedy can hold his own with Romero. While most think Romero will take Kennedy down (and it wouldn’t shock me if he did), I actually believe it’s more likely Kennedy takes Romero down and he’s the one who has top control in this fight, where I see him grinding out a decision or possibly scoring a sub. If Brunson could take Romero down, then I think Kennedy can too, and unlike Burnson, Kennedy has the cardio to go a strong 15 minutes. Romero will be dangerous on the feet, especially in the first round, but overall I believe Kennedy has shown a great chin and I think his standup is a little underrated in general. It’s possible Romero wins, but I believe he’s only the favorite here based on hype, and think at +115 there is solid value on Kennedy here as a dog, and I think he’s worth a small play, although I wouldn’t go crazy on it since Romero is a bit of an unknown and his constant improvement could surprise us. But I do think Kennedy should be the favorite here and at plus money, there value is on him.

Written by Adam Martin.

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