It looks like Yoel Romero has found a fighting home quicker than expected after his surprise release from the UFC roster. The Cuban Olympian will be a Bellator MMA fighter for the foreseeable future.
ESPN’s Ariel Helwani first broke the news on Twitter, before Romero’s agents Malki and Abe Kawa confirmed the story to be true.
Yoel Romero is headed to Bellator.
Romero has agreed to a new deal with Bellator, sources say. He is expected to sign imminently.
He’ll debut for the promotion in 2021 at 205 pounds. His debut date and fight aren’t set yet, sources say.
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) December 14, 2020
According to reports, Romero will make his Bellator debut at light heavyweight in 2021.
Romero is a big acquisition for the Viacom-owned promotion which is headed up by Scott Coker – a man “Soldier of God” knows well from his time competing under the Strikeforce banner prior to his lengthy UFC run.
Though Romero never lifted UFC gold, the former freestyle wrestling world champion and Olympic silver medalist made more than a mark in its middleweight division.
The Cuban posted a UFC record of 9-4 inside the Octagon, knocking off names such as Tim Kennedy, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and former champions Lyoto Machida, Chris Weidman, and Luke Rockhold.
However, for one reason or another, Romero always fell short at the final hurdle to finally becoming UFC champion. He missed championship weight in his interim title fight against Rockhold, meaning his victory didn’t result in a belt being wrapped around his waist.
Romero also posted losing efforts against Robert Whittaker (x2) and Israel Adesanya when gold was put on the line.
He enters Bellator with a 1-4 record over his last five fights, though he was against championship calibre opponents in each of those contests.
Romero now has a chance to win some MMA silverware in Bellator MMA. If he is to stay at light heavyweight, he certainly makes for an interesting proposition in a division currently being ruled by combat sambo king Vadim Nemkov, who recently unseated Ryan Bader as champion.