It still seems crazy to us that Yoel Romero got cut by the UFC at the start of December. For years he ravaged the middleweight division, taking years off the careers of fighters like Robert Whittaker and Luke Rockhold with the massive damage he’d dish out. And then poof, just like that, he was no longer a part of the UFC.
UFC president Dana White implied Romero was just getting old and had lost too much. Never mind his four recent losses came in three title fights and against one title contender. The promotion just didn’t seem interested in staying in the Romero business.
Okay, fair enough. They didn’t want a 43 year old dude viciously gatekeeping the middleweight division. But surely a company like Bellator would be interested? At first it didn’t seem like they were, with Scott Coker saying he was “happy with the roster as it was.” Fortunately, sanity prevailed and Romero is now signed to the de facto number two promotion in the US.
MMA Junkie recently spoke with Coker to clarify what led to the change in position.
“Yoel started with us in Strikeforce back in 2008,” Coker said. “Part of me wanted to do it. Part of me didn’t want to do it. After we signed ‘Rumble’ (Johnson), we had the chance to (sign) Yoel. We passed on (him). I’ll tell you, honestly, the amount of support he got coming through our doors and through the social channels really was impressive. Everybody wanted to see the Yoel Romero vs. ‘Rumble’ Johnson fight. I huddled up with my team.”
Honestly, we’re down to watch Yoel Romero fight anyone. I mean, maybe I won’t re-watch the Adesanya fight, but past that I’m pretty sure any match Romero is in will have me tuned in on Thursday night to CBS Sports Network. A valuable commodity, you’d think.
“I’ll tell you one thing in this situation people don’t really realize: Even if we said we were going to pass, we talk to these agents all the time – every day. Yoel’s name kept coming up and coming up. Finally, I just said, ‘You know what? Let’s do it. Let’s just add him into the mix.’ He’s (such) an amazing talent. He still is somebody that is very dangerous. He definitely can still fight.”
“I said, ‘Let’s put him in the mix, and let’s just go for it,’” Coker concluded. “I’m glad we did. I had a little chat with him. It was great. He seems like such a nice guy and very mature. I’m looking forward to putting him into our 205-pound mix sometime next year.”
And it sounds like the most likely outcome is Bellator going straight for “Rumble” vs. “Soldier of God.”
“My philosophy has always been if the fight is there and you can make the fight, you always make the fight because there’s no guarantee that fight is gonna be there in six months or a year,” Coker said in another interview about the match-up before adding his signature hedge. “It just seems like that fight has a lot of heat on it, and I’m not saying it’s gonna happen, but we’ll definitely have a serious conversation about it at some point.”
Sign it, Coker. Sign it now!