Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight grapplers Alexandr Romanov and Marcin Tybura will duel this weekend (Sat., Aug. 20, 2022) at UFC 278 inside Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah.
What’s this? An actually interesting Heavyweight prospect? Undefeated, credentialed, and just 31 years of age? It simply cannot be!
Unlikely as it may seem, Romanov is real, and he loves nothing more than suplexing fellow big men through the sky. Undefeated in five trips to the Octagon, the Moldovan talent has finished all but one of his opponents. He faces a definite step up in competition this weekend, as Tybura has fought a who’s who of past and present top Heavyweight talent. Tybura has won five of his last six, so he’s actually rebuilt nicely following a rough patch in 2019.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Marcos Rogerio de Lima (UFC Vegas 13), Chase Sherman (UFC Vegas 53), Jared Vanderaa (UFC Vegas 39)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: Romanov is quite accomplished in freestyle wrestling, though I’m more interested in his apparently brief foray into Sumo wrestling? Either way, Romanov is quite the top player in MMA, finishing foes left and right with strangles and strikes.
This is a risky fight for Romanov, but also an important step up in competition. Generally, Tybura is the one looking for the takedown. He’s a rather competent wrestler himself, and as seen in the Juan Espino fight, Romanov isn’t able to score his high-amplitude takedowns against fellow takedown artists. Based on what I’ve seen from his kickboxing, Romanov probably doesn’t want to engage terribly long on the feet either.
What matters then is to make the takedowns count. Early on especially, Romanov has the athleticism and chain wrestling to get Tybura down. He’s deceptively quick and powerful in the clinch, where he should have a clear advantage. Once in top position, Romanov has to get heavy on Tybura and keep him down. If he can stop the initial scramble, it will go a long way in keeping Romanov in control of the fight and making future takedowns come more easily.
Key Wins: Andrei Arlovski (UFC Fight Night 111), Walt Harris (UFC Vegas 28), Ben Rothwell (UFC Fight Night 179), Maxim Grishin (UFC 251), Greg Hardy (UFC Vegas 17)
Key Losses: Alexander Volkov (UFC 267), Fabricio Werdum (UFC Fight Night 121), Augusto Sakai (UFC Fight Night 158), Derrick Lewis (UFC Fight Night 126), Shamil Abdurakhimov (UFC Fight Night 149)
Keys to Victory: Tybura is unusually well-rounded for a Heavyweight contender. His wrestling is probably his best aspect, but Tybura can scramble on the mat and range kickbox rather well. The former M-1 champ also has a pretty significant advantage over his opponent in terms of high-level experience.
Tybura’s goal here should be to extend the fight and make takedowns difficult for Romanov. Romanov’s fights rarely exceed past the opening round, and the one time he made it to the third against Espino, it was clear that Romanov was fading a bit.
Tybura has to establish some barriers at range. The jab is an obvious option, but Tybura actually has a lovely front snap kick that could make Romanov hesitate. Every second the two are trading is one where Tybura is not being smothered from bottom, so forcing Romanov to actually close the distance will be beneficial.
Likely, the bout will be decided by Tybura’s ability to scramble up and defensively wrestle. If the Polish athlete is able to bounce back up and force Romanov to keep chaining takedowns, it will quickly sap his opponent’s gas tank and leave him vulnerable.
This is a major test for Romanov.
There are definitely some promising aspects of Romanov’s fighting style and overall UFC success, but he’s yet to face anyone on the level of Tybura. If he can take this step up and knock it out of the park, that says a lot about Romanov’s overall potential inside the Octagon. Tybura is a tricky man to wrestle, so for Romanov to overcome that style match up would really be quite impressive. If not, well, at least he’s still in his early 30s, which is very youthful for Heavyweight.
On the other hand, Tybura has largely been relegated into a gatekeeper position. This type of fight is exactly what he’s grown accustomed to. In his recent streak, it took five solid wins to actually look up the ladder and fight Volkov, so for him to earn a similar opportunity, expect Tybura to need a similar win streak.
Until then, he’ll have his hands full with prospects like Romanov.
At UFC 278, Alexander Romanov and Marcin Tybura will square off. Which man will have his hand raised?
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 278 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ABC/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
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