Early this month, two-time title challenger Yoel Romero was cut from the UFC roster. It caught many by surprise, Romero included.
In a recent interview with ESPN, “The Soldier of God” finally broke his silence about what really happened from his end of things.
“I was already in training, very hard, getting ready,” Romero said through an interpreter. “We were already thinking about fighting in January or February in 185 [pounds] or 205. We were looking to fight with the top three in either division.
“My managers explained this to the top of the UFC. [The UFC] wanted [me] to fight with Uriah Hall, Derek Brunson. We explained that it didn’t make sense for [me] to fight with these young men. We had an idea we were chasing the world title.
“The way we were training, we knew we had one or two fights and then go for the belt. Our thought was fighting any of these guys in the back of the roster was taking steps backwards, not forwards.”
After an unsuccessful run at middleweight, the 43-year-old began entertaining the idea of moving up in weight. He was apparently waiting for the winner of the November 7 fight between Glover Teixeira and Thiago Santos, but the UFC offered another name.
“They came back with an offer for us to fight Johnny Walker at 205,” he said. “My managers initially were saying who we wanted: Dominick Reyes, Glover, Santos, and Anthony Smith. And it was back and forth, kind of quiet on their end; and once they reached back, it was we couldn’t come to an agreement and they were going to commit to the release.”
Last week, Romero ended up signing a multi-fight deal with Bellator where he will compete as a light heavyweight. Armchair matchmakers are already pairing him up with fellow new signee Anthony “Rumble” Johson, and Team Romero says there’s a “90 percent chance” that the fight happens.
“At 205, Bellator has a huge amount of incredible athletes. There’s a lot of prospects. There’s a lot of opportunities. To throw a name out there right now is pure speculation.
“There’s a lot of things going on behind the scenes that I’m not supposed to speak about, that I can’t say yet. But there’s a huge possibility, a 90 percent chance, that he’ll be the first one to face Yoel Romero.”
Romero last competed at UFC 248 in March against Israel Adesanya and lost by unanimous decision. He left the UFC on a three-fight losing streak.