The last time Yoel Romero competed in Chicago, Ill., the wrestling powerhouse came up short at UFC 225, losing a razor-thin split decision to now-former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight champion, Robert Whittaker, back in 2018.
Many — “Soldier of God” included — felt he deserved the nod after a highly-competitive 25-minute scrap, but the judges felt otherwise. That said, a win wouldn’t have earned Romero the title because he missed championship weight, making him ineligible to become champion.
Nevertheless, Romero says he wants to erase the memory of what happened in his last trip to “The Windy City” as he gears up to challenge Vadim Nemkov for his Light Heavyweight title in the main event of Bellator 297 this Friday (June 16, 2023).
“On some occasions, it’s good to remember and believe in those things that motivate me,” Romero barked during a recent media day (via MMA Junkie). “When I trained, it was to come back and fight here.
“Years ago, I was a champion of another company,” he continued. “Everyone knows what happened in that fight. This time, I’ll make sure it’s not the same as last time. So for the day, I tell my children. I’ll have another story to tell them.”
Romero’s comment of being “champion of another company” further proves he’s still stinging from that decision, and the fact that .2 pounds made him ineligible regardless. The loss to Whittaker started a downward spiral for Cuban wrestler, who went on to lose three straight after that, including his Bellator MMA debut to Phil Davis.
After bouncing back by scoring back-to-back knockout wins over Alex Polizzi and Melvin Manhoef (see them here and here), “Soldier of God” will attempt to get his first taste of mixed martial arts (MMA) gold by handing Nemkov his first defeat in seven years after going 10-0-1 during that span, which includes his latest title defense against Cory Anderson at Bellator 288.
Thankfully, they are fighting at ground level.
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