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Yoel Romero dismisses cardio concerns entering UFC 221 main event

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Yoel Romero will not be eligible to fight for the interim UFC middleweight title later tonight (Sat., Feb. 10, 2018) at UFC 221 live on pay-per-view (PPV) from inside Perth Arena in Perth, Australia, after missing weight by over two pounds, but he’s still going to have a five-round main event fight with former UFC champion Luke Rockhold.

While most of the attention will now be cast upon Romero’s botched weigh cut, the Olympic wrestler will still have to perform at peak level against a proven title threat like Rockhold. It doesn’t help that Romero’s cardio has already been called into question before he stepped on the scale heavy at yesterday’s weigh ins. In fact, Romero had to reassure fight fans that he’s built for five rounds earlier this week at UFC 221’s open workouts.

“People’s opinions, you’ve got to respect them,” Romero told Submission Radio (shown above). “If people think that I don’t have five-round cardio, ask Robert (Whittaker) how he felt when he was fighting me in the later rounds. He’s a very tough man, I applaud him, my hat off to him. He’s got a lot of talent, he’s the champion now for a reason.”

“But look at my age. Look at my form. Do I have cardio or do I not have cardio? If I’m number one in the world, it’s for a reason. People can talk about the cardio all they want, but the results show it. So people behind me, they have to have really, really bad cardio also.”

Romero, 40, is coming off a unanimous decision loss to Robert Whittaker for the interim middleweight title back at UFC 213. It was the first time in Romero’s career that he fought beyond a third round, even though he was scheduled to go five against Lyoto Machida in 2015 (“Soldier of God” defeated Machida via third-round knockout).

Considering Rockhold is often a slow starter and a freak of an athlete capable of maintaining optimal output for 25-straight minutes, Romero may want to attack early. If not, he’s going to have to put his money where his mouth is and prove that he can win a fight in the championship rounds.

MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 221 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.