Through the build-up of UFC 221, there was some tension between Yoel Romero and Luke Rockhold. It was most evident during the weigh-ins when Romero failed to make weight and tipped the scales at 187.7 pounds.
On Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour, Romero shed some light on his apparent beef with Rockhold. According to the “Soldier of God”, it was all rooted in his 2016 issue with USADA, where he failed an out-of-competition test in December 2015 that resulted in him being suspended for six months.
“You remember one day when you talked to me, I said I have only one list, a blacklist? He [was] on the blacklist,” Romero told Ariel Helwani (via MMA Fighting). “He knows why. He knows why. Because he talked a lot of (trash). After USADA, when that happened, when I had this problem with USADA, he talked (trash). Before USADA, before, every time when he saw me, whether (in) Vegas or when the UFC made something like the (athlete) retreat, he’d say, ‘Hey, what’s up, my man? You want to go out with me? I need a party.’ I’d say, okay, come on, let’s go, no problem.”
“When I [was hanging out] with him, he was like a friend,” Romero continued. “He’d [put his arm around me] like this, ‘Yoel, what’s up?’ And every time, he asked me the big question. Every time, he asked me: ‘Hey Yoel, you want to fight with me?’ I’d say, ‘What?’ (He’d say,) ‘Yeah, so you want to fight?’ I’d say, ‘No, no, no. Wait, wait, wait, wait. That’s not the question. The question is, do you want to fight me?’ He’d say, ‘No, no, no. I don’t want to fight with you.’ So I’d say, ‘Okay, so you don’t want to fight me and I don’t want to fight you? That’s it.’”
Romero ended up knocking out Rockhold in the third round of their main event fight in Perth, Australia. Right after the fight, he was seen talking into the ear of the former middleweight champion, something which he was criticized for by Michael Bisping.
The 39-year-old Cuban fighter also revealed what he was saying to Rockhold at the time.
“In this moment, I said, ‘Hey, Luke. I love you. I love you,” Romero said. “You remember the time when you were staying with me, hanging out, and you said, ‘Do you want to fight me?’ I said, ‘You remember? And you see what happened after USADA? You remember? I’m still here. I love you.’”
“He didn’t [say] anything because he knows. He knows.”
According to UFC President Dana White, Romero will now be facing Robert Whittaker in a rematch for the undisputed middleweight title.