Another weekend of fisticuffs has come and gone with action-packed fight cards from both Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and Bellator MMA last Sat. night (Sept. 18, 2021) in Las Vegas and San Jose, respectively.
Plenty of fighters were left licking their wounds including Ryan Spann, who was tapped out in the very first round by Anthony Smith in the main event of UFC Vegas 37 (see it here). And Christian Edwards, who saw his undefeated record go out the window after Ben Parrish knocked him out in just 38 seconds at Bellator 266 (replay here).
But which fighter is suffering from the worst post-fight hangover, now a few days removed from the show?
Coming into his Bellator debut, “Soldier of God” was looking for a new lease on his combat sports life after leaving UFC on a three-fight losing streak. During his time competing inside the Octagon — which spanned nearly eight years — Romero competed in the middleweight division. For Bellator, the former two-time title contender returned to light heavyweight class against Phil Davis.
Unfortunately for the hulking Cuban-born wrestling machine, a change of scenery wasn’t enough to get him back on the winning track, coughing up a split-decision loss (though it should have been unanimous) to “Mr. Wonderful” after 15 minutes of action.
Afterward, Romero appeared a bit confused, later admitting he thought the fight was scheduled for five rounds seeing as how four of his last five fights with UFC were five-round contests. In Bellator, however, only the championship fights go 25 minutes, if needed.
Whether or not an extra 10 minutes would have been enough to allow “Soldier of God” to get his offense going against an opponent who out-wrestled him and dominated him pretty much everywhere the fight went ... well, we will never know. The fact remains Romero has now lost four straight and is just 1-5 since 2017.
Afterward, promotion president Scott Coker revealed that Romero would be given another fight inside the Bellator cage, exuding confidence for the heavy hitter despite failing to showcase much offense in his debut.
“I’m telling you, Yoel will be back. This is, to me, his comeback fight,” Coker said. “It’s been how long since he fought? We’ll give him another fight, and he’ll be really, really ready for the next one.”
Though Romero has taken on and defeated some of the best in the world, at age 44 the big question is: how much more does the Cuban bruiser have left in the tank? “Mr. Wonderful” was all praise on Sat. night, so it may just be a matter of settling in.
“Romero sets an interesting tempo,” Davis admitted to MMA Junkie after the fight. “He has lots of movement, lots of feints, everything power. My boxing coach would always say, ‘You’ve got to take some punches just to keep him honest.’ Nothing keeps you honest. He’s all power, all business.”
For my money I would like to see him go back to 185 pounds where I think he’ll have much more success. Gegard Mousasi is the current champion and John Salter, Austin Vanderford, Costello van Steenis, Fabian Edwards and Johnny Eblen round out the Top 5.
If Romero does drop back down, he may have to start with someone on the lower half. The problem is, names like Charlie Ward, Mike Shipman and Norbert Novenyi Jr. don’t exactly ring out as high-profile fights for someone like Romero.
Time will tell.
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