Yoel Romero (5-1, 1-0 UFC) vs. Ronny Markes (14-1, 3-0 UFC), at UFC Fight for the Troops 3
Yoel Romero is a Cuban defector who set up shop in Germany and began his MMA career there. He brings with him to the cage what is either the best or 2nd best wrestling credentials of any active MMA fighter today. He is an Olympic silver medalist in freestyle wrestling and has a gold medal, 2 silvers, and 2 bronzes from the Fila world championships. As can be expected from a true world class wrestler, Yoel is a bull of a man and has explosiveness, power, and athleticism for days. Thanks in large part to Yoel’s brother Yoan, a champion pro boxer who defected with Yoel to Germany; Yoel is surprisingly fluid and light on his feet in the striking game. Foot movement, head movement, angles, distance, Yoel has a solid understanding of all of it. His incredible wrestling allows him to open up on the feet with little fear of being taken down and now that he is at 185 this should be even more pronounced. Yoel had a disappointing debut in Strikeforce against veteran, former champ, Rafael Cavalcante. Obviously we can chalk this up to too much too soon. It was Yoel’s 5th MMA fight and Cavalcante’s 14th and it took place up at 205 lbs. His fight with Markes should be very interesting and very telling as to where Romero is headed.
Playing the immoveable object to Yoel’s irresistible force is Ronny Markes. Markes comes in to this fight with attributes that are similar, but different, than that of Romero’s. Like Yoel, Markes is very effective at getting his opponents to the floor but he does it in a more methodical, more conservative manner. If Yoel is a sledgehammer than Markes is a lead blanket, he overwhelms guys with his long, tall, frame and kind of engulfs them and drags them down. Once on the ground he has been extremely effective at staying on top and staying out of submissions. He’s neither the busiest nor the most damaging on the floor but its winning him fights in the UFC against tough guys. He is also, like Yoel, a big 185er but instead of compact and dense Ronny is tall and long. He also has good conditioning and strong punches, knees and kicks. A win here would make Ronny 4-0 in the UFC and looking towards big fights.
Yoel Romero is still a bit of a question mark. I don’t think it would surprise anyone if he had an outstanding UFC career or if he ended up in Bellator a year from now. This fight against Markes is the perfect fight, against the right opponent, at the right time to tell us more. Look for Markes to surprise everyone and maintain his wrestling heavy attack in this fight against the Olympian. He brings with him years of Bjj that Romero cannot match and his striking is good enough to hold his own on the feet. Romero will impress with flashes of physical brilliance often enough to make this competitive and to earn another UFC fight but he will ultimately be just 1 step behind the more experienced fighter in Markes. Ronny Markes wins by unanimous decision.