Cuban Olympic wrestling standout/silver medal winner Yoel Romero returns to action Satuday at UFC Fight Night 70, and faces what is arguably the biggest test of his career when he takes on the former light heavyweight champion/middleweight contender Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida. Beyond having a tough fight in front of him, Romero will also be looking to erase the memory of his hotly contested win against Tim Kennedy, which came after Romero was slow to answer the bell in the third round of their UFC 178 bout. Romero would subsequently score a TKO win over Kennedy, after what many saw as a gift in the form of extra time to recover between rounds.

That, however, is ancient history come Saturday. Romero will need to be focused on the task at hand: finding a path to victory against the elusive karate practitioner Machida. Machida is coming off a loss to Luke Rockhold at UFC on Fox 15 in New Jersey, and many feel his best years are now firmly behind him. Romero, meanwhile, can be seen as a fighter on the rise — a very strong, solid fighter with a high-level wrestling base backing potentially brutal knockout abilities.

What does Romero need to do to continue his momentum at UFC Fight Night 70?

Ensure His Cardio Is Up To Snuff

Romero has never gone five rounds in his career to date. He looked gassed coming out for the third round of the Kennedy fight, though he managed to pull that one out. However, here he goes up against a fighter who has gone five rounds several times, and for whom cardio should not be an issue.

The cardio factor will hopefully have been addressed in training. Otherwise, things could go south for Romero if this bout goes the distance, or even deep into the third or beyond.

Score Takedowns

For all his power, wrestling is still Romero’s bread and butter, and he’d be wise to look for takedowns early and often. Repeated takedowns can break the will of a fighter, especially when they feel as if they’re being taken down at will. Machida is an elusive foe, however, and Romero will need to be on his guard.

Watch The Counter-Strike

Machida is a well-known counter striker, a fighter who lures an opponent in, evades an offensive attack and returns fire, hitting home with an attack of his own. His karate background is partially to blame, but Machida is also a more well-round mixed martial artist than many recognize. He tends to use a lot of feints to draw an opponent in, and Romero will need to be aware of this. If not, he may find himself in a position similar to Ryan Bader, when Bader faced off against The Dragon.

Romero has all the skills to put together a win Saturday. Cardio, at this point, is the question mark. If he has addressed that, then we could see him vault into title contention at UFC Fight Night 70.

About The Author

Senior Staff Writer

Covering the sport of MMA from Ontario, Canada, Jay Anderson has been writing for various publications covering sports, technology, and pop culture since 2001. Jay holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Guelph, and a Certificate in Leadership Skills from Humber College under the Ontario Management Development Program. When not slaving at the keyboard, he can be found in the company of his dog, a good book, or getting lost in the woods.