According to ESPN MMA, Yoel Romero has agreed to a multi-fight deal with Bellator MMA. The 43-year-old Cuban-American was cut from the UFC earlier this month, ending his seven year stint with the company.
News of Bellator’s capture of Romero comes a days after reports circulated that Coker had passed on the opportunity to sign the former Olympian. Coker had said that Bellator was moving away from “signing OGs” in favour of developing home-grown talent like AJ McKee and Ilima-Lei Macfarlane.
However, Coker did say he was open to further dialogue.
And now it seems, if Ariel Helwani’s reporting is correct, that this further dialogue resulted in a change of heart from Coker.
Romero earned a silver medal for Cuba in freestyle wrestling at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. Romero also earned medals at the World Championships, Wrestling World Cup, Pan American Games and Pan American Championships.
In 2007 Romero defected from Cuba to Germany. He made his pro MMA debut two years later.
Romero won his first four pro-MMA bouts on the German regional scene before taking a jump up in competition at Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Kharitonov in 2011. In his Stateside debut Romero was KO’d by Rafael Cavalcante.
Romero was signed by the UFC after the company’s purchase of Strikeforce in 2013. He started his UFC carer with a flying knee KO of Clifford Starks. ‘The Soldier of God’ went on an 8-fight winning streak from that moment earning KO/TKOs of Derek Brunson, Tim Kennedy, Lyoto Machida and Chris Weidman.
His first UFC loss came at UFC 213 in July, 2017. There he lost, by unanimous decision, to Robert Whittaker in a fight for the interim UFC middleweight championship.
In his next bout Romero KO’d Luke Rockhold to regain the since vacated interim middleweight title. Romero was then given a undisputed middleweight title fight versus Whittaker. However, Romero failed to make weight, thus making him ineligible to win the title.
Despite coming off two losses, Romero faced Israel Adesanya this March for Adesanya’s UFC middleweight title. Romero lost that bout by unanimous decision.
At Bellator Romero joins other signings with otable histories with the UFC, such as Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson, Corey Anderson, Lyoto Machida, Ryan Bader and Gegard Mousasi.