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Manager: Romero can be a ‘gatekeeper’ for now, will get title shot after three KO wins

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Yoel Romero’s manager Ibrahim Kawa isn’t closing the door on his client’s UFC title run.

UFC 248 Adesanya v Romero Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

UFC president Dana White was left let down by the middleweight title fight between Israel Adesanya and Yoel Romero at UFC 248 on Saturday. He was particularly disappointed at Romero, whom he expected a sense of urgency from as the challenger.

“You’re going in and facing the world champion. This is your last shot at a championship,” White said during the post-fight presser. “You shouldn’t even be here getting this title fight, it should be Paulo Costa. If he didn’t get hurt, you don’t even get this opportunity.

“You go in, and you do everything you can to win that fight. He literally did none of that,”

For manager Ibrahim Kawa, Romero falling down the bottom of the list of title contenders is only logical. But saying he can no longer fight for the belt is speaking a bit too soon.

“We can label Yoel as a gatekeeper at this point,” Kawa told MMA Fighting. “But if he knocks out three guys in devastating fashion, everyone’s going to be saying Yoel’s the best middleweight, and he needs another title shot. If guys can’t beat Yoel, then eventually, the only guy left is Yoel.

“He didn’t lose an opportunity where he’ll never fight for a title again,” he added. “I don’t think that’s the case. I think it’s just depends on the fans. If the fans get behind Yoel and they believe Yoel deserves a shot, the UFC will give him a shot.”

Kawa also defended Romero’s performance that White criticized.

“In his mind, he was pushing (the action),” Kawa said. “Not the first two rounds – he was very patient. The game plan was to be patient, because as we saw, Izzy doesn’t know what to do coming forward. He’s a guy that waits for you to come in, and he makes all his moves based on you.

“When he did try to push the action, it was very hard for him. Yoel would have had to shoot from so far from the opposite side of the cage to get into range, which he did. He power-doubled him all the way to the cage. He wrecked him and then let him up so he could finish with a flurry.

“He figured the more I show judges that I’m hitting him, the better, rather than the takedown and trying to hold him down, and if Izzy gets up, it’s going to look negative on him,” he added. “So why not power-double him, let him up, and hit him with some shots? All credit to Izzy, he was able to weather the storm and move out of the way as he did pretty much the whole fight.”

Adesanya himself admitted that the recently concluded fight was the weirdest and most boring one he’s ever been involved in. Nonetheless, he kept the belt around his waist and his undefeated record intact.