Fans of Yoel Romero will have to wait a little longer to see the former UFC interim title challenger in the Bellator MMA cage. ‘Soldier of God’ was supposed to face Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson at Bellator 258 next week, but news broke yesterday that the Cuban-American has been pulled from the card.
An official release from Bellator stated that, “Yoel Romero did not clear pre-fight medical testing and as a result, his Bellator MMA debut against [Johnson] has been postponed. Bellator will confirm a tournament alternate to face ‘Rumble’ Johnson in the Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix as soon as possible.”
The statement added that, “Romero will become eligible to reapply for clearance to compete in the coming months, and we look forward to seeing him make his Bellator debut in the near future. Bellator MMA will look to reschedule the highly anticipated Johnson versus Romero matchup at a future date.”
The Bellator Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix Tournament started with Romero, Johnson, Vadim Nemkov, Phil Davis, Ryan Bader, Lyoto Machida, Corey Anderson and Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov.
Bader and Anderson advanced to the semi-finals to face each other after wins over Machida and Yagshimuradov. Nemkov defeated Davis and was waiting for the winner of Johnson vs. Romero.
Romero is a former Olympic silver medallist who came to MMA in 2009, after his defection from Cuba. The 44-year-old signed with the UFC in 2013 and got off to an eight-fight win streak to start his Octagon career. In that run he knocked out Derek Brunson, Tim Kennedy, Lyoto Machida and Chris Weidman.
His first UFC loss was against Robert Whittaker for the interim UFC middleweight title in 2017. He rebounded from that defeat to KO Luke Rockold and set up a rematch with Whittaker for the UFC middleweight title proper.
However, a botched weigh-cut at 2018’s UFC 225 meant that Romero had to fight Whittaker without the possibility of winning the title. He lost that bout by split decision. Romero then lost to Paulo Costa in 2019 and Israel Adesanya, for the middleweight title, in 2020.