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Yoel Romero turned down multiple fights prior to ‘unexpected’ cut from UFC

UFC 213: Romero v Whittaker Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White said the release of former middleweight title contender Yoel Romero was a “tough” decision, one that would represent an ongoing effort to streamline the roster as the promotion heads into 2021.

Maybe it wasn't so tough after all.

According to Romero, who called his release “unexpected,” he was actively negotiating with matchmakers Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard but the two sides were miles apart in terms of where “Soldier of God” fit in the current 185-pound title picture.

“I was already training very hard, getting ready,” Romero told ESPN (transcribed by Farah Hannoun). “We were already thinking of fighting in January or February at 185 or 205. We were looking to fight with the top three in either division. They wanted (me) to fight with Uriah Hall, Derek Brunson, and 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. Our thought was that fighting any of these guys that are in the back of the roster, that it was taking steps backward, not forward.”

Any backward steps were taken by Romero, who lost three straight and four of his last five. That includes his UFC 248 snoozer against reigning middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, panned by White and most of the mixed martial arts (MMA) community.

“They came back to us with an offer to fight Johnny Walker at 205,” Romero continued. “At 205, we wanted whomever triumphed between ‘Marreta’ (Santos) or Glover (Teixeira). I was training not extra hard, but training with an intensity that I was going to run through my next two fights, get another shot at Izzy (Adesanya), and once I was in there, I was going to take his head off.”

Romero was hardly a model employee. In addition to his weight-cutting woes, “Soldier of God” was hit with a United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) violation, waltzed his way through Stoolgate, and went full Jesus after murdering Lyoto Machida.

Perhaps it was for the best, as Romero can now trade leather with the likes for fellow UFC exports Ryan Bader and Anthony “Rumble” Johnson after signing with Bellator MMA.