5 Defining Moments: Yoel Romero

By Mark Raymundo Aug 14, 2019
The ordering process for Ultimate Fighting Championship pay-per-views has changed: UFC 241 is only available on ESPN+ in the U.S.

Past 40 and still a feared commodity, Yoel Romero has built a career as noteworthy as his presence. This weekend, he’ll return to the Octagon to lock horns with the much younger and very dangerous Paulo Henrique Costa at UFC 241. As the Cuban American tries to make another run for the middleweight title, here are some of his career-defining moments:

1. Lessons learned early

Before his interim title fight with Robert Whittaker, Romero’s only professional loss was a knockout dealt by Rafael Cavalcante. This was contested at light heavyweight, which was Romero’s original weight class when he started fighting in mixed martial arts. After this fight, however, he dropped to middleweight and has never looked back. As it seemed, this setback ignited a fire in Romero, who was later signed by the Ultimate Fighting Championship and embarked on an eight-fight winning streak.

2. Debuting with flying colors (and knee)

After the loss to Cavalcante, Romero suffered a neck injury that required surgery. He had to sit out for almost two years, and upon recovery, Romero was signed by the UFC where he delivered an emphatic debut performance. Welcomed by then two-fight UFC veteran Clifford Starks, Romero dropped the American with a flying knee before finishing him with strikes, serving one of the scariest MMA debuts seen by fans.

3. An able headliner

By the time he faced Lyoto Machida at UFC Fight Night 70, Romero was already a battle-tested middleweight, having ran through the likes of Tim Kennedy, Brad Tavares, Derek Brunson and Ronny Markes. It marked the first time he was placed in the main event, and Romero seized the moment. He engaged the former UFC light heavyweight champion in two competitive rounds before landing a string of elbows to the ground, which ended the fight early in round three.

4. Dominant at 40

Coming off a close decision loss to Whittaker at UFC 213, Romero bounced back with a commanding victory over another former champion in Luke Rockhold. The American was only 33 at the time while betting underdog Romero was less than three months away from turning 41. However, it was a massive left hook from the “Soldier of God” that sent Rockhold to the canvas, bringing the fight to a halt in round three. Although he was ineligible to win the interim middleweight title after missing weight, with the victory, Romero set up a rematch with Whittaker, which he unfortunately lost as well.

5. Almost champion

Romero figured in two hard-fought championship bouts with Whittaker. He earned the right to contend for the interim title by going undefeated against top-quality competition that included Chris Weidman, Ronaldo Souza and Machida. In the first fight, Whittaker rallied past the Cuban to capture the UFC interim middleweight belt. All three judges scored it 48-47 for the New Zealand-born Australian. Their rematch turned out to be another entertaining 25-minute brawl, with Whittaker again coming out victorious, this time via a controversial split decision. Romero had earlier missed weight so the title wasn’t on the line. Advertisement

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