Heading into Saturday night’s UFC fight Night 70 main event in Hollywood, Fla., Lyoto Machida and Yoel Romero were both vying for a spot in the UFC middleweight championship mix. But only one could emerge victorious.
Machida entered the fight having lost two of his last three bouts, including a submission loss to Luke Rockhold – the next title challenger – in April. Romero, on the other hand, was riding a five-fight winning streak.
The fight opened with both men exploring with their kicks, but Machida quickly took control, using lots of fakes and feints to leave Romero searching for his timing. Machida was a ball of motion, darting in and out on Romero, attacking his lead leg, finding various amounts of success, while avoiding Romero’s power.
Machida kept his strategy of avoiding Romero’s power going in the second stanza, but as the round wore on, Romero started to find the timing he had been searching for, finally starting to figure out Machida’s movement.
By the third round, Romero had it all figured out. Now playing off of Machida’s movement and timing, Romero staggered him with an uppercut. That took Machida completely off of his game plan, as he rushed Romero.
That played perfectly into the former Olympic silver medalist wrestler’s hands. Romero tripped Machida up and put him on the canvas. Following him to the floor, Romero landed a couple punches to open Machida up, but then dropped several heavy elbows that finished the fight.
It was an impressive finish by Romero, stopping the former UFC light heavyweight champion to earn his sixth consecutive victory and immediately propel himself into the thick of the middleweight elite.
Post-fight, Romero said that he was ready for whomever God put in front of him, but instead of focusing on an opponent in the Octagon, he used the majority of his air time to rant at America, seemingly about the recent gay marriage ruling.
The United States Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that homosexual couples have a right to get married, and that all states in the union must recognize this right. There has been a tremendous public display of support for the decision, although there is also a large faction of detractors, as well.
“Hey UFC! Hey Miami! Hey Florida! Listen, listen, listen!” he yelled.
“What happened to you USA? What happened to you? (Unclear) the best of the best in the world, the name is Jesus Christ. What happened to you? Wake up USA. Go for Jesus, not (unclear) Jesus, people.”
Many people, including this reporter, initially believed that Romero said, “Go for Jesus, not gay Jesus, people,” but there has been much debate about his comment, with some people believing he said, “Go for Jesus, not forget Jesus, people.”
Upon further review of Romero’s comments (FOX Sports posted his rant and titled it as being about gay marriage, they later changed the title of their video post), it wasn’t conclusive enough to let the quote stand either way. And at the post-fight press conference, Romero tried to explain that it was all a misunderstanding, that he had been talking about the American Dream.
Regardless of what anyone thinks of Romero’s post-fight comments, there is no confusing his work in the Octagon. Having never lost in his six UFC outings, and finishing all but on of those fights, certainly makes Romero one of the most exciting challengers in a crowded middleweight division.