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UFC 241, The Morning After: Yoel Romero is a champion lost in time

Here’s what you may have missed from last night!

Yoel Romero is simply at odds with the entire concept of time.

Timing is, on one hand, his greatest asset. The Olympic silver medalist fully understands the value of watching an opponent until his foe’s reactions are understood secondhand. Romero watches his opponents as though he were studying tape on them, playing a game of cause-and-effect. The thought process of Romero seems relatively simple: what would Paulo Costa do if I were to throw a jab? Three jabs? If I stand still, what then? What if I slide around the Octagon floor like an ice skater, how will he react? All the while, Costa is throwing massive power in his direction, unsuccessfully trying to shake Romero from his information gathering stage.

Romero learned a lot from his experiments. Early on, he noted Costa falling hard into his right hand, so he immediately fired counter hooks into the place Costa was dipping his head. In the second, Romero figured out when to shoot out straight punches as Costa stepped forward, timing the blows perfectly so that Costa provided much of the force necessary to do damage without sapping Romero’s energy. By the third, Romero had his opponent so figured out that he was landing back fists to counter head movement.

Despite Romero’s strategy working as intended, it did not win him the fight. Costa’s early work — all the strikes that gained Romero precious insight — still counts, regardless of Romero simply allowing much of it to happen. Getting flurried upon on the fence is a bad look to judges, even if a fighter manages to block a lot of the blows and stick his tongue out mid-combination. Body kicks count despite the impact being absorbed by an iron eight-pack of abs.

In this way, time is the enemy of Yoel Romero. Though still a black eye for the sport and its fan base, there was a reason the crowd booed the final decision: if the bout were judged as a whole, Romero pretty clearly wins the decision. Unfortunately, judging the entire bout has not been the primary method of deciding fights in most organizations for well over a decade.

Romero has previously clashed with this concept. He has relied on the third-round finish to rally from otherwise inevitable decision losses in the past. Most notably, the Cuban put an absolute hurting on Robert Whittaker in two of the five rounds of their second fight... while doing little to nothing in the other three.

Taken as a whole fight, Romero’s hand is undoubtedly raised, but he’s competing in the wrong decade. From a wider perspective, Romero is also about 10 years too old to be dueling in these kind of battles, especially in back-to-back fights, let alone nearly winning them. At just about any other point in MMA history, Romero would surely have raised a gold belt over his head at some point, but it now appears more unlikely than ever.

There is no solution for Romero’s conflict. “The Soldier Of God” accomplishes otherworldly feats of athleticism inside the Octagon with disturbing regularity, but even he cannot resolve his quarrel with time itself.

For complete UFC 241 “Cormier Vs. Miocic 2” results and play-by-play, click HERE!