Yoel Romero signed a multi-fight deal with Bellator and was expected to make his promotional debut earlier this year against Anthony Johnson in the opening round of the Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix tournament. That would not happen as the 44-year-old did not receive medical clearance to compete due to an eye injury.
Romero has experienced eye injuries before, but details on this one were scarce until now. Speaking to Danny Segura of MMA Junkie, the ‘Soldier of God’ explained that he was poked in his left eye during a sparring session ahead of his fight with Johnson.
Romero sought out medical advice from his doctors and they told him to delay the fight to allow for his eye to completely heal, which he said was the ‘best decision’ for him.
“I think the best decision was not to fight,” said Romero (translation via Segura). “It happened during a sparring where I got eye-poked and doctors advised me that it was best not to fight. I’m thankful that we’re working with professionals, who are taking care of you and watching out for you.
“You have to be sensitive to what they say,” continued Romero. “If they’re telling you, ‘Look, you’re older. It’s not like you’re a kid and you can go out there and fight and run the risk, but you have a chance to make up for it in case of any error. It can cost you. You don’t need to fight right this moment. Let this eye heal and then you can fight.’ It made sense what they said, so I took my time.”
Now healed from the eye injury, Romero had his debut rescheduled and received a new opponent in former UFC contender and Bellator light heavyweight champion Phil Davis. Romero and Davis meet this Saturday at Bellator 266.
Romero has not competed since his unanimous decision loss to Israel Adesanya at UFC 248 last year. Prior to the loss to Adesanya, Romero also dropped decisions to Robert Whittaker and Paulo Costa at UFC 225 and UFC 241 respectively. His last win came against Luke Rockhold, who he knocked out at UFC 221.