UFC 221: Where to Bet in Romero-Rockhold Interim Title Bout?

romero rockhold

Andreas Hale

Thursday, February 8, 2018 1:50 PM UTC

Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018 1:50 PM UTC

The UFC interim middleweight title is on the line at UFC 221 on Saturday (USA time) when former champion Luke Rockhold takes on Yoel Romero when the promotion goes Down Under to Perth, Australia.

UFC 221Free UFC Pick: Luke Rockhold -145Best Line Offered: 5Dimes

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Luke Rockhold vs. Yoel Romero for the interim middleweight title Saturday at UFC 221 in Perth, Australia, is a byproduct of current champion Robert Whittaker suffering an injury and being unable to defend his title against Rockhold in his home country. Stepping in will be Romero, who was unsuccessful when he challenged Whittaker for the title at UFC 213 last July. Rockhold is currently the favorite at -145, while Romero is sitting at +135.

However, despite Romero’s Olympic wrestling credentials and the fact that he just challenged for the title, he’s going to be at a disadvantage against Rockhold, who has been on a warpath since dropping the title in shocking fashion to Michael Bisping two years ago.

Romero has been exceptional throughout his UFC career as he has built up an 8-1 record with victories over the likes of Chris Weidman, Jacare Souza, Lyoto Machida and Derek Brunson. But there’s a fundamental issue that the Cuban has: cardio.

Romero tends to gas as the fight progresses. Part of that can be attributed to his advanced age of 40, while the other part can be credited to his muscular build. Nevertheless, he tends to try and conserve his energy and land a big blow late in the fight. Five of his UFC knockouts have come in the third round. The problem with this is that Rockhold is easily the most fluid striker he’ll have faced, and a five-round fight doesn’t bode well for Romero. Rockhold controls distance well with his varied approach to striking, where his feet are as dangerous as his hands. He’s also an above-average grappler with solid takedown defense. All of these are recipes for disaster for Romero. Chances are that this fight goes the distance and Rockhold should be able to outpoint Romero in the standup by using his height and reach advantages. And as long as he doesn’t have a mental lapse and allow the wrestler to take him down or land a big strike, Rockhold should see his hand raised in victory.

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Rockhold liver kicks 🤢 @LukeRockhold #UFC221 pic.twitter.com/ON0namR3Mf

— UFC (@ufc) February 7, 2018

The co-main event finds Mark Hunt (+145) stepping into the Octagon after finishing off Derrick Lewis last June. His opponent is rising heavyweight Curtis Blaydes (-165). On the outset, this looks like a fight that Hunt should win. However, there are a few things about Blaydes that could cause major issues for Hunt. For one, Blaydes is a strong wrestler who has utilized that tool to build a record of 8-1. His only loss? To then-unknown Francis Ngannou, who only stopped Blaydes after the doctor ended the fight due to Blaydes' eye injury. If Hunt is to win, he’s going to have to finish Blaydes off. And considering that Blaydes ate everything Ngannou threw at him, that will be no easy task.

The issue here is that Blaydes is a relatively significant favorite, and that line tends to scare me off. Blaydes' resume isn’t close to what Hunt has faced, and his 8-1 record doesn’t give you a lot of confidence. For that reason, I’m siding with Hunt here for the value. But it only makes sense if you pair it with the 'under' of 1.5 rounds at +160. If Hunt is to win, it’s probably going to be from an early knockout. As we’ve seen in the past, it only takes one punch from Hunt to end the night.

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