Yoel Romero vs. Lyoto Machida:
At 37 years old, Lyoto Machida is undoubtedly a legend of the sport and a fighter who will go down as one of the best strikers in the game. However, I think he’s made way too fast of a turnaround to face a beast in Romero, who hasn’t lost a single bout in the Octagon. He’s come close against Derek Brunson and Tim Kennedy, but somehow he found the finish. Machida has done exceptionally well against wrestlers in the past, but I’m not sure he has enough left to deal with an Olympic silver medalist at this point. Romero should be fresh after being out of action for almost nine months now, while ‘The Dragon’ took a brutal beating against Luke Rockhold in April that most likely left him concussed. Rockhold is hardly the wrestler Romero is, so I could see ‘Soldier of God’ flattening out Machida on his way to a ground and pound stoppage. Romero via third round TKO.
Lyoto Machida has a tricky style to fight, but he also has hours and hours of fight footage in the UFC. If Yoel Romero is smart, he’ll have done a lot of homework on the crafty Karate master, and he probably should try and get this fight to the ground as quickly as possible. One thing I picked up from ‘Soldier Of God’s’ previous fights is that he likes to explode in and out of range. A master of distance and powerful striker himself, Machida could well catch Romero coming in on one of his explosive shots or striking attacks. Although the former 205-pound champion may be predictable in his unpredictability, it doesn’t make him any easier to fight, and I think he is out to prove a point. First round TKO for Machida.
It’s no secret what each man’s strength is here, with Lyoto Machida being the superior striker and Yoel Romero being the world-class wrestler. Each man also has something to prove, with “The Dragon” looking to erase the memory of a terrible loss and “The Soldier of God” looking to prove that he can hang with the elite. Despite the Brazilian having the striking advantage, Romero has unparalleled power and can end a fight with one shot. This may play into Machida’s gameplan as “The Dragon” is a natural counter striker using exquisite speed, and perfect timing to lure opponents in before landing his own shots. If Romero gets ahold of Machida the fight will undoubtedly end up on the ground, but Machida’s takedown defense is amongst the best and he will need to use his speed and timing here too. If he can establish his range, I see “The Dragon” tiring “The Soldier of God” before taking him out. Machida by fourth round TKO.
This is a very tough fight for me – do you go with the experienced former champion, or the guy coming off five straight convincing wins? Against Rockhold, I saw Machida really struggle for the first time in his career. Against the bigger Jon Jones and Rashad Evans, Machida stood his ground. He is noticeably slowing down, and even though he thinks this fight will vault him back into title contention, I disagree. I see Romero controlling the fight in the later rounds. Yoel Romero via split decision.
Lorenz Larkin vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio:
I’ve seen most picking Larkin here, but I’ll have to disagree. Ponzinibbio is a huge welterweight who’s rarely lost in MMA, and although he’ll be at a noted disadvantage in the striking department against Muay Thai wizard ‘Monsoon,’ he should have the strength and grappling know-how to get this fight to the ground. Once it gets there, the former Strikeforce standout will be out of his element, and I believe it’ll be tough for him to get back and unleash his devastating strikes with his gas tank sapped, leading to a fight-ending hold. Ponzinibbio by second round submission.
Strikeforce veteran Lorenz Larkin saved himself from getting cut by the UFC with a January TKO win over John Howard. ‘Monsoon’ has had a rough ride since joining the UFC, and I think there’s a lot more to come now he has finally found his feet. Santiago Ponzinibbio is no joke though, training out of ATT (American Kickboxing Academy), ‘Gente Boa’ has a 20-2 record, and most recently won a decision over Sean Strickland in February. This fight is a toss up stylistically, and I see Larkin using UFC Fight Night 70 as his coming out party. Decision win for Larkin.
This has potential to be the “Fight of the Night” here as Lorenz Larkin and Santiago Ponzinibbio both have extreme knockout power. Ponzinibbio also has solid submission skills, but I feel since dropping down to welterweight, Larkin will have the size advantage and be able to keep the fight on the feet where he wants it. Larkin looks rejuvenated at 170-pounds and I expect him to make a statement here. Larkin by first round TKO.
This match-up of 28-year-old competitors is very interesting. Larkin is a bigger name, but hasn’t enjoyed much success recently. He has lost four of his last six fights, so I am a little nervous about his prospects. Ponzinibbio, on the other hand, has won two in a row, and is looking to make a name for himself. I see Ponzinibbio putting up a valiant effort, but Larkin isn’t ready to go back down the hill yet. Lorenz Larkin via Round 2 TKO.
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