Yoel Romero hammers Brad Tavares in UFC on FOX opener

The big expectations that followed Yoel Romero into mixed martial arts have never exactly weighed him down, but they have caused premature conclusions on just how far he was going. Part of that is due to his age. Nearing 37 years old, Romero doesn’t have time to slowly build towards a championship. For him, it’s now or never.

The former Cuban Olympic wrestler seems to make forward strides every time out, and at Saturday night’s UFC on FOX event at Orlando’s Amway Center, he might have crafted his most impressive performance. Using a potent mixture of power striking and dominant wrestling, he overwhelmed the Hawaiian Brad Tavares in a unanimous decision.

All three judges scored the one-sided fight 30-27 for Romero.

In snapping Tavares’ five-fight win streak, Romero successfully managed seven of 10 takedowns and connected on over 75 percent of his significant strikes, according to FightMetric. 

Romero (8-1) set the tone early with a takedown in the opening minute, and managed four more takedowns in the opening round as he put Tavares on his heels. That opened the door for his explosive striking game, and in the second, he caused a gash along the left side of Tavares’ head with a smashing elbow, one of his 46 significant strikes. By contrast, Tavares had 24.

Romero, who came into the fight ranked No. 14, will no doubt move up a few slots after the display. 

Tavares, who was No. 13 in the rankings, hadn’t lost in three years, and fell to 12-2.