Freelance: Michael Bisping vs. Yoel Romero Preview and Prediction

The world of mixed martial arts was rocked when one of the greatest fighters to ever put on a pair of four-ounce gloves, Georges “Rush” St-Pierre was going to return to the sport that made him recognizable across the globe. However, with the announcement of his return came word that not only would he move up to the middleweight (185-pound) division.

Like “Notorious” Conor McGregor’s move up, the MMA legend would immediately jump the line and face the champion, Michael “The Count” Bisping, who admitted that he was chasing his most major payday and drew the ire of some fans because of that. The call would essentially logjam the weight class. The organization then held a press conference announcing the fight (which uncommonly did not have a hosting city, venue or date announced.)

After much squabbling, back and forth over scheduling, GSP said in a video posted on various social media platforms that he wanted to get the deal down and that he’d be open to facing “The Count” any time after October. The UFC had been hoping for the fight to take place this summer during the annual UFC International Fight Week in Las Vegas during July. St-Pierre’s eventual return to competition should still happen, but when it comes to 185, he’s been given the axe.

A Cuban Olympic silver medalist in wrestling and the proper #1 ranked middleweight contender Yoel “Soldier of God” Romero has been inserted into his place.

“I actually was expecting it,” Romero’s manager, Malki Kawa said in an appearance on The Luke Thomas Show earlier this week.

“If you know Dana White, one thing he can’t stand is when fighters don’t fight, especially when the champions don’t fight. . . If you know Dana right and you watch him, he’s probably just tired of the whole hoopla with Georges. . . “[If Bisping doesn’t accept Romero as his challenger] I’m calling for them to strip the belt at this point. It’s time to strip the belt. . . It’s unfortunate. It’s a bad situation for everyone to be in but at the end of the day, it’s time for us to move on with this division.”

The Bisping-Romero Rivalry

The middleweight champion has been anti-steroids for the entirety of his career. Romero, a prowling shark in the division, the “popped” for a banned substance during an out of competition drug test administered by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA.) Romero contested his innocence and proved that the supplement he took during training that resulted in the test failure was not on the list of ingredients for said supplement.

As a result of this fact, Romero’s suspension was reduced to six months for his first “offense” as opposed to the standard two years. He returned to competition at UFC 205, the promotion’s debut in New York’s legendary Madison Square Garden, knocking out the region’s native son, “The All-American” and former middleweight champion Chris Weidman by way of a vicious to the head, finishing him off with ground n’ pound striking.

Shortly after Romero’s triumphant return Bisping said the following, originally on his SiriusXM radio show:

“…But will I fight him? God d*mn f*cking right I’ll fight him…I’ve fought a lot of cheaters of the years and my stance on that stuff is strong as you know, but if that’s the fight that’s gonna go down – I don’t want people to be like, ‘he’s just ducking Romero. He’s ducking Romero’ because that’s not the case at all. I’m not ducking Romero so f*ck it. If that’s the circumstances, that’s the circumstances. But I want very, very stringent testing throughout camp. I want him to be tested pretty much every week on a random day.”

While Romero finished Weidman at UFC 205, Bisping’s first defense of his championship was also viewed as controversial as challenger Dan “Hendo” Henderson was getting a crack at the gold even though the fight was announced as he last career bout regardless of the outcome. Bisping won via a unanimous decision to close out the previous UFC pay-per-view event in his home city of Manchester, England.

Bisping vs. Romero: The Early Odds

Per freelance MMA journalist Dane McGuire, the following information originally retrieved in December of 2016 from FightMetric, LLC still remains up-to-date:

  • Bisping leads Romero in significant strikes landed per minute (4.44 to 3.26) although his opponent leads by a wide margin in accuracy (54 percent to 38 percent.)

  • Romero, again, an Olympic champion in wrestling, is the victor in takedown defense with a 13 percent differential (77 to 64 percent.)

Thanks to these and other factors, with the odds being just hours old at the time of this writing on May 14, 2017, Romero is the heavy favorite (practically 4-1) at -360 while the champion, in a rarity in betting but not for Bisping’s career is being viewed as the underdog at +280.

Prediction: While “The Count” may connect with more significant strikes per minute than the “Soldier of God,” he takes slightly more damage (2.63 to 2.01 blows to give a punch.) The widest gap between the two is in striking accuracy where Romero leads Bisping 54 percent to to 38 percent, which might explain the above odds.

Add to these figures the fact that Romero is 12-1 in MMA (8-0 inside the UFC’s octagon) with ten KO/TKOs and only two wins coming from scorecards, and the champion could be in real trouble. Bisping will likely leave the octagon with swelled eyes and possibly without his belt depending on how the 30-7 (20-7 in the UFC) 38-year-old 10-year veteran of the UFC’s durability holds up.

Then again, one-third of the Englishman’s total victories have gone the distance as well four of his seven defeats.

Yoel Romero def. (C) Michael Bisping by way of a unanimous decision

Previously mentioned UFC President Dana White also told USAToday’s that Bisping-St-Pierre may still take place following Romero’s shot because it’s the bout that all parties involved still want, the timing just isn’t right (right now) for the two to square off.