A win for Cuban Yoel Romero (9-1) could get him closer to the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s middleweight title, but veteran Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida (22-6) stands in his way as the promotion returns to South Florida.
The UFC will visit the Seminole Hard Rock and Casino with the nationally televised UFC’s Fight Night 70 card Saturday.
The fight card, which airs on Fox Sports 1, starts at 6:30p.m.
Initially, the card was to feature the bantamweight and lightweight tournament finals for the reality show The Ultimate Fighter, but those fights will now take place at UFC 190.
The night’s co-main event will feature Lorenz Larkin (15-4) against Santiago Ponzinibbio (19-2). Originally, No.10 welterweight Rick Story was to take on Brazilian Erick Silva in the co-main event, but visa issues scratched the fight.
Knockout artist Romero, ranked No.6, has won eight of nine bouts by KO and technical knockout. Romero has been impressive inside the octagon. Romero’s last victory was controversial against Tim Kennedy. In the second round, Kennedy landed several strikes. Romero was saved by the bell. Between rounds, Romero was allowed to stay seated for almost an extra half minute for some reason.
The veteran Machida, ranked third in the middleweight division, will fight Romero in a quick turnaround after coming off a loss to Luke Rockhold in April by submission. Aside from winning the title, he holds impressive wins over Mauricio Rua, Dan Henderson and champion Randy Couture via front kick using his unique style of fighting.
The former champion is in need of a win, going 3-2 in his past five fights. Machida defeated Rashad Evans in 2009 to win the light heavyweight title.
Romero was scheduled to fight second-ranked Ronaldo Souza, but injuries to both fighters kept the contest from taking place.
Last year, the UFC returned to Florida when it visited a packed Amway Center in Orlando. Romero defeated Brad Tavares. In 2012, the UFC visited BB&T Center but didn’t feature a local fighter.
But Romero should be a big draw in South Florida. He competed in the 2000 Summer Games for Cuba and won a silver medal in freestyle. He also competed in the 2004 Games.
Romero trains with the American Top Team Coconut Creek, where he works with UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler, Cuban-American Jorge Masvidal and Hector Lombard.