UFC 178 Play: Tim Kennedy (+125) vs Yoel “Soldier of God” Romero (-145)

Romero-YoelUFC 178 Date: September 27, 2014 Arena: MGM Grand Garden Arena City: Las Vegas, NV Middleweight bout: Tim Kennedy (+125) vs Yoel “Soldier of God” Romero (-145) Fight Breakdown: Featured on the UFC 178 main card on Pay Per View is a middleweight bout between a pair of Strikeforce imports in Tim Kennedy and Yoel “Soldier of God” Romero, with Kennedy being an underdog at +125 ($100 to win $125) and Romero being the betting favorite at -145 ($145 to win $100) at Several Bookmakerss. Tim Kennedy (8-4 MMA, 3-0 UFC) is coming off a dominant and impressive unanimous decision victory over Michael Bisping at the TUF: Nations Finale five months ago. The upset win made it three in a row inside the Octagon for Kennedy, who will be looking to extend that streak to four against Romero. The Strikeforce import is a skilled striker who possesses a great submission game, both offensively and defensively. He is very good with chokes, and favors the guillotine. His submission defense in tremendous, as is his defensive grappling, in general. He is good at defending takedowns, as well as scoring them, especially with the double-leg. On the mat, Kennedy employs a vicious ground and pound attack that usually leads to a stoppage via TKO or submission. The 35-year old does a great job of mixing it up on the feet with every weapon he has, including knees and elbows, which he loves to employ. He has a good chin, and a nice overhand right behind it. The former Strikerforce middleweight title challenger has a great kicking game. He works powerful leg kicks, and is effective with them. After going 30-1 fighting as an amateur, Kennedy went pro and has amassed an impressive 16-4 record, which includes notable wins over Rafael Natal, Roger Gracie, Jason Miller, Melvin Manhoef, and Robbie Lawler. He is a finisher, as 14 of his 18 professional mixed martial arts career victories have come inside the distance; five by knockout, and eight by way of submission. Training in high altitude at Jackson-Winklejohn MMA in Albuquerque, NM, Kennedy is a cardio machine who will be ready for three rounds of action against the Cuban. Yoel “Soldier of God” Romero (8-1 MMA, 4-0 UFC) is set to make his fifth appearance inside the Octagon, coming off an impressive one-sided unanimous decision victory over The Ultimate Fighter season 11 veteran Brad Tavares. The dominant win makes it four in a row for him inside the Octagon, and he is eager to make that 5-0 against Kennedy. Romero is without a doubt a finisher, having finished seven of eight opponents he has defeated in his professional mixed martial arts career by T/KO, with Tavares being his only decision victory. The Cuban is a southpaw who throws very heavy hands and packs a lot of power behind every strike. His lone career loss came against Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante under the Strikeforce banner, in a fight in which he was doing well against “Feijao” until getting caught on the feet towards the end of the second frame. Romero is definitely a heavy hitter who is always looking to put his opponents away. He has excellent footwork, and uses the inside leg kick really well. He has solid striking defense, and is very patient, as he looks for opportunities to explode. The Cuban is an unorthodox striker who likes to set up his power shots. He works heavy kicks to the head and body, and loves to implement his vicious knees and elbows. Romero is a decorated wrestler who represented his country of Cuba in the 2000 Summer Olympics. It goes without saying that he is incredibly talented on the mat. Romero works solid takedowns and easily controls opponents while seriously punishing them. As talented as he is on the mat, he did not implement a wrestling game-plan until the Tavares bout, as he had fallen in love with his hands and knocking opponents out. In the bout preceding the Tavares fight, he took on Derek Brunson and was on his way towards losing a decision, but ended up scoring a big come-from-behind TKO stoppage late in the third round. I think that close call made him decide to go back to his roots, which is his wrestling. Training out of American Top Team in Coconut Creek, FL, Romero’s cardio is average at best, and will undoubtedly be at a disadvantage in that department against the army veteran. Gabe’s Thoughts: Both 185-pounders are very talented in the grappling department, so I think they will cancel each other out there and trade on the feet, where I feel one of them will eventually put the other away. Currently, I lean with Romero to get the job done, as I think he is the heavier hitter of the two. As long as this fight stays on the feet, as I expect it to, I think there is a very good chance it ends within the first five minutes of action, so at the slight underdog price of +115, I really like the Under 2.5 rounds total for a wager. If it makes it past 2.5 rounds, I think it will be because it’s turned into a grappling-heavy fight, and I am personally counting against that. In a crowded middleweight division, an impressive finish here could put the winner right behind Vitor Belfort for a title shot, and I think they will both be looking to make that statement. It is possible they could look to make a statement by using dominant grappling, I just don’t think either will be able to completely dominate the other in that department. I see this fight playing out on the feet, and I don’t see their chins holding up for too long. Gabe’s Call: Romero by KO (uppercut, 1:32 round 1) Gabe’s Recommended Play: Under 2.5 rounds (+115) 2u to win 2.3u

Written by Gabe Killian

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