Yoel Romero: ‘There’s A Huge Possibility’ Bellator Debut Will Be Against Anthony Johnson

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It was quite a shock that Yoel Romero was cut by the UFC and signed by Bellator. Speaking for the first time since this happened, he addresses his UFC release, and talks about the potential of fighting Anthony “Rumble” Johnson in his debut in the new promotion.

As a multiple-time UFC title challenger, it was a bit surprising that the UFC decided to part ways with Romero. He had not been on the best run of late, but he had almost exclusively been fighting for UFC gold for several years. Nevertheless, he was let go as a part of a series of incoming roster cuts, and after a brief period on the free market, signed with Bellator.

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Finding Out Yoel Romero Was Cut

As it turns out, getting cut by the UFC was something that was a complete shock to Yoel Romero too. Speaking in an interview for the first time since his release, he shared what went down between he and the UFC. Apparently they could not agree on opponents, in either the middleweight or light heavyweight division, so the decision was made for them to part ways.

“First and foremost, it was something that was completely unexpected,” Romero said via a translator. “I was already training hard, getting ready because we were already thinking about fighting in January or February, (at either middleweight or light heavyweight). We were looking to fighting in the top three in either division. My managers explained this to (Dana White), but they wanted me to fight with Uriah Hall and Derek Brunson. We explained to them that it didn’t make sense for me to fight with these young men.

“We had an idea we were chasing, the world title,” Romero continued. “The way that we were training and making it happen, we knew that we had one or two fights and then we would go for the belt. Our thought was that fighting any of these guys at the back of the roster was taking steps backwards not forward. My managers went back and forth nonstop with the matchmaker and the President, but there was no (agreement). They came back with an offer to fight Johnny Walker at 205, but we said we wanted to fight whoever triumphs between (Thiago Santos) and Glover (Teixeira). The managers were initially saying who they wanted to fight (between those two, Dominick Reyes, and Anthony Smith), and it went quiet on their end. When they did respond, it was to say that we couldn’t come to an agreement and they were going to commit to the release.”

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Fighting With Rumble Johnson

This was certainly an unfortunate turn of events for Yoel Romero, and he says that he was quite perturbed by this news. While he fielded offers from five various promotions, he eventually settled with Bellator, despite the promotion not being interested initially. With Bellator also recently signing another surprise release in Anthony Johnson, and Yoel being willing to move to 205lb, fans have been chomping at the bit to see these two face off. While the Cuban did not commit to an answer, he does say that it is quite likely that these two would face off in his debut in the promotion.

“At 205, Bellator has a huge amount of incredible athletes,” Romero said. “Malki and I were looking at all the 205-ers that were there, incredible talents. In the 205 division, not talking about the champ, you’ve got three or four incredible athletes who have already discussed the title, between number two, number three, and number four. All the top competitors, even with Jonny ‘Bones’ Jones, which to me is pound-for-pound the best fighter ever, in that division. There’s a lot of prospects, and opportunities.

“To throw a name out there right now, is pure speculation,” Romero continued. “Because there’s a lot 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% chance that he will be the first one to face Yoel Romero. I know that will be a fight that will please people, that a lot of people will want to watch.”

Yoel Romero says that he hopes to make a debut in Bellator in the first quarter of 2021, and is planning to he will be facing the best of the best in the promotion, right off the bat. While it is disappointing to see him part ways with the UFC, the “Soldier of God” seems to be happy with the way things are looking moving forward.

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Date: December 16, 2020

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