Beating the mastery of Machida. The evolution of Yoel Romero.

lyoto machida vs yoel romeroLyoto Machida vs Yoel Romero was a highly interesting match-up in the middleweight division. The legendary Lyoto Machida against the up-and-coming Yoel Romero. Will Lyoto continue to be a contender? Will Yoel Romero boost himself further up the rankings ladder with a win over a future UFC Hall of Famer?

What we saw in this fight was a spectacular performance from Yoel Romero. He is no longer the wrestling based powerful striker. He has taken his wrestling, his heavy hands, his athleticism, and molded it all together to become a versatile and confident fighter, capable of beating the most allusive fighter at his own game.

Ever since losing the Light Heavyweight belt to Shogun Rua, it’s no secret that Lyoto hasn’t been able to put a decent string of victories together. Before this career slump, Lyoto was known and feared for his ability to mix his championship karate in to the cage. Lyoto is also a very cerebral and tricky fighter, often faking strikes and moves to test and time opponents reactions. It was this skill and strategy that helped him dispatched dangerous fighters like Thierry Sokoudjou, Tito Ortiz,  Rashad Evans, and Shogun Rua.

In Lyoto Machida vs Yoel Romero, it looked like we had the old Lyoto back. He was kicking, faking with his hips, faking with his strikes, timing Yoel’s movements and reactions and trying to get Yoel Romero to slip up. A three round fight, a decent amount of time for the mastery of Machida to find the weakness and capitalize. Yoel Romero was too good that night.

The first time we saw Yoel Romero was his loss to former Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion Rafael Calvacante. Then we saw him against scoring a Fight of the Night against Derek Brunson at UFC Fight Night Rockhold vs Philippou. It was very clear that Yoel Romero is a gifted athlete with a fluidity and strength that comes from right right balance between nature and years and years of nurture. Yoel being a champion freestyle wrestler, relied a lot on that wrestling base. He knew he had heavy hands and could see opportunities to use them, but needed the experience to know when to execute.

In his fights against Brad Tavares, we saw more of Yoel’s wrestling. Controlling most of the fight and earning a decision victory. Nothing surprising here but always magnificent to watch a champion at his craft.  In his fight against Tim Kennedy , we saw Yoel’s resilience and heart. We also saw the application of his heavy hands that finished Tim Kennedy in the early part of the last round.

To this point, in his fights against Derek Brunson, Brad Tavares, and Tim Kennedy. We see Yoel Romero as a fighter that always relies heavily on his wrestling to control distance and control opponents and then use his heavy hands to get the win. We haven’t seen him against a champion striker like Lyoto Machida.

Once we put Yoel Romero in the ring with Lyoto Machida, Lyoto started with his strategy. His fake striking, his fake movements. Yoel didn’t fall for any of it. Kept his cool and rolled with the punches. Lyoto started with his “running away” game. Applying his trademark allusive style. The same style that so famously frustrated Tito Ortiz to the point where Tito threw a temper tantrum. Yoel didn’t give away too much in the chase, just took his time, fought his own fight and got his own distancing down.

In the end of the second round, Yoel was about to execute a takedown and you could see the superior strength and ability to get into position he had against Lyoto. In the third round, Yoel caught Lyoto with a very sneaky and brilliantly executed trip. Reaching his right foot behind Lyoto’s left, he was able to take Lyoto to the ground. But that reach and the ability to cover that distance so quickly is something to marvel at.

Yoel Romero took the legs away from Lyoto and instantly poured elbows and strikes against the former Light Heavyweight Champion. A very well played and well fought fight. Showing his confidence, his maturity and how much his skills has evolved. Can we finally see Yoel Romero vs Jacare Souza now?

Lyoto Machida vs Yoel Romero full fight video