UFC 221 predictions: Expert fight picks for Rockhold vs. Romero, undercard

UFC champ Luke Rockhold (Getty)

The UFC makes its pay-per-view return to Australia as UFC 221 takes place on Saturday, Feb. 10 from the Perth Area in Perth, Australia. Will probably be the primary time a PPV has been held “Down Underneath” since UFC 193 when Holly Holm knocked out Ronda Rousey. 

The primary occasion options Luke Rockhold and Yoel Romero battling for the interim middleweight championship. 

Who leaves the Australia with the gold?

UFC 221: Rockhold vs. Romero predictions

Luke Rockhold vs. Yoel Romero

Kyte, I really feel like we’re lastly going to agree on a fundamental occasion right here. To not take something away from present champion Robert Whittaker, who I feel is an incredible expertise and extra gifted than individuals give him credit score for general, however I consider Luke Rockhold is just not solely one of the best middleweight on the planet. Not solely that, I truly assume he’s one of many 5 or 6 most full fighters within the sport today. I do know that seems like grandiose reward for somebody who received slept by Michael Bisping two fights again, however I genuinely consider that dropping that fight was the most effective factor that would ever occur to Rockhold.

Typically it’s essential to get taken down a notch earlier than you possibly can attain your biggest heights. Dropping to Bisping was a crushing blow to Rockhold’s ego, but in addition pressured him to deal with a few of the issues he was doing (and never doing), and I feel we’ll see the outcomes of that right here and all through the remainder of the yr.

Rockhold is an incredible athlete who is aware of methods to put his appreciable pure presents to good use whereas additionally having elite expertise in each side of the sport. He’s a rangy southpaw with wonderful kicks, a deft floor recreation and super conditioning, plus a heaping serving to of confidence and swagger. Hubris might have value him towards Bisping, however I genuinely consider he’s discovered from that and can ship the perfect, most full efficiency of his profession on Saturday night towards Romero.

Prediction: Luke Rockhold

Muehlhausen: The place I do disagree with Spencer is that Rockhold is not the perfect middleweight on the planet. That designation belongs to Whittaker. Let’s keep in mind, Rockhold obtained knocked out by Michael Bisping — sure, Michael Bisping. Rockhold’s ego acquired one of the best of him and he underestimated Bisping, and take a look at what occurred. To be one of the best fighter in your weight class, it’s a must to have supreme focus in each single fight. Rockhold did not have that at UFC 199 and he paid the worth.

Now, Rockhold is the second greatest 185-pound fighter on the earth. His grappling is among the many greatest within the sport, despite the fact that his hanging hasn’t been what it was. He was sloppy towards Bisping. In his final fight towards David Department in September, his sloppiness virtually value him. Department rocked him with some onerous photographs and had the previous champion in some critical hassle.

After Whittaker and Rockhold, Romero is No. three. Two issues stand in Romero’s approach of being the perfect: age and cardio. The 2000 Olympic silver medalist in freestyle wrestling is forty years previous. If you hit that magic quantity in MMA, your recreation begins to wane — and Romero has a few of the worst cardio within the sport. If his fuel tank had held up towards Whittaker at UFC 213 final July, the Cuba native can be the middleweight champion.

Rockhold will apply strain early and sometimes. His takedown protection will stymie Romero’s biggest weapon and he’ll have the ability to management the fight on the ft as Rockhold’s been engaged on it vigorously together with his coach, Henri Hooft. I feel we see the Rockhold we noticed when he gained the title from Chris Weidman at UFC 194.

Prediction: Luke Rockhold to turn out to be the interim UFC middleweight champion

UFC 221 foremost card, undercard predictions

Fights Kyte Muehlhausen
Mark Hunt vs. Curtis Blaydes Blaydes Hunt
Tai Tuivasa vs. Cyril Asker Tuivasa Tuivasa
Li Jingliang vs. Jake Matthews Jingliang Jingliang
Tyson Pedro vs. Saparbek Safarov Pedro Pedro
Dong Hyun Kim vs. Damien Brown Kim Kim
Israel Adesanya vs. Rob Wilkinson Adesanya Wilkinson
Jeremey Kennedy vs. Alexander Volkanovski Kennedy Kennedy
Ben Nguyen vs. Jussier Formiga Nguyen Formiga
Mizuto Hirota vs. Ross Pearson Hirota Pearson
Jose Alberto Quinonez vs. Teruto Ishihara Quinonez Quinonez
Daichi Abe v. Luke Jumeau Abe Abe