UFC Fight Night 70 went down last night (June 27, 2015) from Hollywood, Florida and it was a solid night of fights in which we may have seen a true title contender emerge, while a true legend fell.
In the main event, No. 4-ranked former light heavyweight champion and former middleweight title challenger Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida took on No. 6-ranked Cuban Olympic Silver Medalist Yoel “Soldier of God” Romero.
Both men had something to prove as Machida was looking to make a quick turnaround from one of the most disappointing losses of his career suffered to now title challenger Luke Rokchold back at April’s UFC on FOX 15, while Romero was looking to dispatch one of the division’s elite, and he did just that. The first two rounds were rather uneventful, but “Soldier of God” was able to secure a takedown in the third, and subsequently landed some brutal elbows until the fight was called.
Although he may have plagued his victory with an insensitive post-fight interview, Romero made a statement inside of the cage, while Machida has some thinking to do. Let’s take a look at what could be next for both men:
For “Soldier of God”, it seems as if there is only one logical fight for him to take next and that would be a bout with No. 2-ranked Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. The two were actually supposed to meet twice earlier this year, first at UFC 184 in February, but Souza was forced out due to injury. The bout was then rescheduled for UFC on FOX 15, but Romero was forced to pull out due to injury.
Now with the UFC making it clear that the next title shot is going to go to No. 1-ranked Rockhold, and not Souza, the time is right for a bout between Romero and “Jacare”. When you look at the rankings, and the fact that Romero just secured the biggest win of his career, this seems to be the only bout that would make sense for him, and it could be deemed as a title eliminator to create the next middleweight title challenger after Rockhold and current champion Chris Weidman meet.
The Brazilian karate legend may have to go back to the drawing board, and seriously think about his next move. At 37-years of age, it simply seems as if time has caught up to “The Dragon”. It seems as if his timing, speed, and knack for range is off, and it has shown as he has now suffered back-to-back finish losses, both in pretty brutal fashion. Could it be time for Machida to hang up his gloves for good?
If he decides to stick around, there are definitely still some bouts out there for him. A bout against either the winner or loser of the upcoming UFC Fight Night 72 Michael Bisping vs. Thales Leites fight could make sense. Machida will likely remain in the top 10, quite possibly even the top five depending on how the rankings shake up, giving the winner of that bout the chance to take on a top ranked middleweight. And if the UFC decides to match Machida up with the loser of that bout, it would be a great opportunity for the Brazilian to get back on track.
Another “tune-up” fight so to say for Machida could be a bout against the also struggling No. 13-ranked Costas Phillippou. Although this bout may be far-fetched, it would be another opportunity for Machida to see where he stands in the division. The same could be said for a potential bout with No. 8-ranked Tim Kennedy, who has been out of action since last September since he lost to Romero.
One last possibility could quite possibly be the most appealing to the fans. A fight between Machida and fellow struggling Brazilian legend Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort could make a lot of sense at this point. Belfort is coming off of a loss to Weidman at UFC 187, but he and Machida are both still ranked in the top five. Both also still have the star power to headline a Fight Night card, or meet on a pay-per-view (PPV) main card, making this a very interesting possibility.
What do you think is best for both the victor Romero and the victim Machida?