Feared middleweight contender Yoel Romero insists he did everything he could to make weight for UFC 225. But ‘The Soldier of God’ came in heavy (by 0.2 lbs) and was forced to forfeit 20 percent of his purse to Robert Whittaker, who retained the 185-pound title after edging out a split decision in a Fight of the Night epic at Chicago’s United Center last month.
Romero also missed weight for his interim title bout with Luke Rockhold at UFC 221 and, despite winning via third-round knockout, the Cuban was disqualified from winning the belt.
Rising middleweight prospect Israel Adesanya, who will headline his first UFC card at the upcoming Ultimate Fighter 7 Finale on July 6, believes Romero intentionally missed weight on both occasions to try and game the system.
“Look at Romero in his last fight. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t really care in the end because it was such a good fight, but regardless of what happened I didn’t want Romero to win,” Adesanya told Peter Carroll of MMA Fighting in a recent interview.
“Fuck that, the guy missed weight and it’s not even the first time he missed weight. And he’s been caught doing other stuff in the past too. I think there’s an element of gaming the system there, it’s almost cheating to be honest.”
Romero was suspended for six months in 2016 after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs, although the United States Anti-Doping Agency eventually concluded that Romero ingested the banned substance Ibutamoren unknowingly.
Romero was also involved in some controversy in his middleweight bout with Tim Kennedy at UFC 178, where the former Olympian took an extra 30 seconds to recover in between rounds two and three after surviving a late second-round onslaught by his opponent.
Adesanysa, 28, has the UFC middleweight title in his sights and may cross paths with Romero on his road to the championship. But first, Adesanya will have to get past wily veteran Brad Tavares, who he will meet in a headlining bout at The Ultimate Fighter 27 Finale on July 6 at the Pearl Theatre in Las Vegas.