The majority of the mixed martial arts community seemed majorly shocked at Friday night’s breaking news of perennial middleweight contender and multiple-time title challenger, Yoel ‘Soldier of God’ Romero’s release from the UFC.
Immediately, fans and media alike began to speculate as to where the veteran Cuban may land, with plans already underway for him to resume his fighting career following his sudden parting from the promotion. Tonight, two major players have reportedly voiced their disinterest in penning Romero to a deal — in the form of Bellator MMA, and the PFL.
Romero, an almost seven-year Octagon veteran had been pencilled in for both undisputed and interim 185-pound title tilts on four separate occasions — finding himself as a real standout on the list of greatest fighters to never lift UFC gold.
Despite having three fights remaining on his contract, Romero, his management team of Malki and Ibrahim Kawa along with the UFC agreed to part ways. The 43-year-old Olympic silver medalist was booked to compete as recently as UFC Vegas 7 in August against The Ultimate Fighter 17 finalist, Uriah ‘Prime Time’ Hall — with the pairing ultimately shelved after the former withdrew due to undisclosed reasons.
Speaking with former two-weight UFC world champion and colour-commentator, Daniel Cormier on his the show DC & Helwani, ESPN MMA reporter, Ariel Helwani revealed that he had been informed that both the PFL and Scott Coker’s Bellator MMA weren’t interested in signing Romero.
“Surprisingly, I’m told Bellator (are) not interested, I’m told (the) PFL (are) not interested, surprisingly surprisingly,” Helwani said. “And so, there’s RIZIN (FF), there’s ONE (Championship), there’s KSW.“
A thirteen fight Octagon veteran, Romero finished his promotional run with a string of three consecutive losses. Bookending two close decision defeats to two-time foe, Robert Whittaker and Paulo Costa, the Pinar del Rio favourite headlined UFC 248 in March — losing a forgettable unanimous decision to current champion, Israel Adesanya.
An explosive finisher, the American Top Team trainee had scored wins over four former world champions during his Octagon run; stopping Luke Rockhold, Chris Weidman, and Lyoto Machida in between a split judging victory over Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza at UFC 194.