UFC 221 Preview: Romero vs Rockhold

The UFC heads to Perth on Sunday with an exciting card that includes Kiwi Mark Hunt fighting in the co-Main Event.

Yoel Romero will clash with Luke Rockhold for the interim middleweight title.

The Perth fans have plenty of reasons to be excited with several Aussies fighting on the card. We analysed the card to give you our tips in detail below.

Main Events
Yoel Romero vs Luke Rockhold
Romero To Win ($2.20)

Look past his age and you’ll see that Yoel Romero is one of the most skilled wrestlers in his division. Romero carries a 12-2 record into the fight and is looking to avoid consecutive losses.  

Rockhold comes to Australia on the back of winning six of his last seven fights. Rockhold had a second-round knockout win over David Branch and will be looking to secure a title bout with a victory over Romero.  

Romero will need to rely on his wrestling skills and his ability to go the distance against someone like Rockhold. Rockhold has a slight edge given the nature of his last TKO victory. 

There’s no reason why Romero can’t get the job done in Perth.  

Romero’s all-round skill set means he holds an edge over Rockhold. Romero should have enough gas in the tank to get the win against Rockhold.

Mark Hunt vs Curtis Blaydes
Under 1.5 Rounds ($2.15)

Mark Hunt returns to the octagon for the first time since taking the points against Derrick Lewis in Auckland. The Super Samoan has been hyping up the fight after his controversial omission from the UFC Sydney card.  

Blaydes is searching for his third consecutive win after his second round TKO of Aleksei Oleinik at UFC 217. It’s an interesting match-up as Blaydes is a noted wrestler. Hunt has struggled in the past to contain a fighter with superior grappling ability. 

Hunt has made all the right noises about fighting someone ranked higher on this card. Expect the Kiwi veteran to come out swinging as he bids to put Blaydes to sleep in the first round. This will be a fairly even match-up, but Hunt’s superior striking ability gives him the edge. 

There’s a lot to love about Hunt’s determination once he gets inside the octagon. The Kiwi has the skills to finish this one inside the first 1.5 rounds at $2.15. 

Main Card
Tai Tuivasa vs Cyril Asker
Under 1.5 Rounds ($1.48)

Tai Tuvasa is looking to build on his successful UFC debut when he takes on Cyril Asker. Tuivasa finished off Rashad Coulter with a flying knee-kick; keeping his perfect start intact.  

Asker is coming off a submission victory over Hu Yaozong at UFC 122 and will be looking to win his second fight in a row. 

Tuivasa has claimed all of his victories with first-round knockouts. It’s fair to say that Tuivasa is one of the most exciting talents in the division.  

Asker has struggled to string together consecutive wins. While the French slugger has been impressive in his last outing in China, he may struggle to go the distance with the young Aussie.  

Tuivasa is still a raw talent and this will be a good experience fighting on the main card in front of the home fans. Look for Tuivasa to finish this one early with a flying knee kick.  

Expect Tuivasa to explode out of the blocks. Tuivasa has the talent to finish this one early. He is good value to grab the win under the first 1.5 rounds at $1.48. 

Jake Matthews vs Li Jingliang
Under 3 Rounds ($2.95)

Li Jingliang enters UFC 221 winning his last four fights, taking his record to 14-4. Jake Matthews has been vocal about fighting in Perth. The Celtic kid faces a tough task to go the distance with the Chinese veteran.  

Matthews picked up a split-points win decision against Bojan Velickovic in November.  On his day Matthews is a balanced fighter with a good takedown defence.  Does he have the quality to match it with Jingliang? 

Jingliang has been earning the plaudits after an impressive victory against Zak Ottow. The Chinese brawler is aggressive with his takedowns and an incredibly powerful striker. 

This fight won’t be going the full five rounds. Jingliang is an exciting fighter with a combination of skill and power that will be too much for Matthews to handle. Jingliang should be in for an early night.  

Jingliang has enough tricks to get the job done against the Australian within the first three rounds ($2.95).   

Tyson Pedro vs Saparbek Safarov
Over 1.5 Rounds ($2.05)

An interesting fight for Aussie Tyson Pedro as he goes up against the crafty Russian veteran. Pedro has all the skills to make him a real asset in the light heavyweight division. Pedro will be looking to recapture some momentum after suffering the first of his UFC career to Ilir Latifi at UFC 215. 

Safarov will face a tough time against the Australian and faces a tricky match-up Safaraov will be relying on his sambo skills to get him in close to the Aussie for the take-down. A victory here will give Safarov a chance to make a name for himself in the Light Heavyweight division.  

Pedro’s plan of attack will be to keep the Russian slugger within range of his heavy kicks and then land a takedown. While Sarafov lacks the composure of other fighters in the division, he can cause the Aussie a few headaches.  

This is a real chance for Pedro to grab a win in front of the Aussie fans and get some momentum back in his UFC career.  

Back Pedro to get the win after the first two rounds at $2.05. 

Preliminary Fights