mma / Columns

Yoel Romero: The Problem “Solver”

February 13, 2018 | Posted by Evan Zivin
Yoel Romero UFC 221 - UFC 225

Who would have thought so many people would be praising a fighter for missing weight, including the promoter himself?

All right. “Praise” may not be the right word to use but I do find the tone of the conversation among MMA writers coming out of last Saturday’s UFC 221 to be very interesting.

First off, if you didn’t see UFC 221, then you’re probably in the majority, as I know a lot of people were trashing the quality of the card leading up to it and I’m sure the promise of the crowning of another Interim Champion wasn’t going to sway to many fans to plunk down $65 to witness the action as it unfolded.

Seriously, did UFC honestly think that adding a title to the Yoel Romero vs. Luke Rockhold main event that was birthed after UFC Middleweight Champion Robert Whittaker withdrew from his original defense against Rockhold was going to get more people to order the show?

UFC, you have full champions who can barely draw 100,000 buys. Why did you think adding an interim belt, one of the scourges of the current UFC landscape, was going to create more interest in this event? You always knew there was going to be a low ceiling on the number of buys for this show. The belt wasn’t going to make a difference, especially if you weren’t going to put any effort into selling the fighters competing for this sham of a championship to people who don’t follow the sport and weren’t already drooling at the prospect of Romero facing Rockhold.

They didn’t really put any effort into selling any of the fighters on this card, which is a shame because there were a couple young killers being featured, including Alex Volkanovski, Israel Adesanya, and Tai Tuivasa. Hell, Adesanya celebrated his win by pretending to pee all over the Octagon, while Tai chugged the contents of a shoe. I’m sure coating his throat with athlete’s foot would have made it worth it if anyone knew who he was before he TKO’d that guy.

I could also include Curtis Blaydes in that group but he’s been around the UFC for a bit. Plus, he beat Mark Hunt, which is impressive but also depressing. Nobody likes seeing Mark Hunt lose.

Actually, that may not be true. It would depend on whether his lawsuit against the UFC is still ongoing…

Romero vs. Rockhold is one of those fights that not many people realized was still hanging out there but, once the UFC threw it together, everyone was on board. I mean, no one liked the idea of another interim champion, especially after we had just cleared up all that noise when Whittaker got promoted to full champion following Georges St-Pierre vacating the title he took from Michael Bisping, but we were willing to go with it to see the top two ranked contenders vie for a shot at the champion. As it should be.

Plus, it’s not like the interim title being on the line even matters now, as Romero found a great way to eliminate that issue: he missed weight.

That’s right. For a fight he needed to be 185 for, he hit the scale at 187.7, taking away his ability to become interim champion if he won. So what started as a fight for the UFC Middleweight Championship and became a fight for the Interim UFC Middleweight Championship ended up being a fight for the Interim UFC Middleweight Championship But Only If Rockhold Wins.

After all that, I could certainly understand UFC’s hesitance to go back to the printers to have the posters changed a second time.

Not that it would have mattered anyway, as Rockhold did not win. As a matter of fact, he did the opposite of win. He lost. Hard. Lost right in the face.

After a fairly even Round One and a Round Two that saw Romero begin to uncork some of his punches, he connected with a good left hand in Round Three that rocked Rockhold before he put the former middleweight champion’s lights out with a thunderous right hand.

And with one massive punch, everyone stopped caring that he missed weight. Nobody was talking about the title he didn’t win, as the discussion had moved to the title he could win, as the win over Rockhold, despite technically not being a middleweight fight, earned him the right to rematch Whittaker for the middleweight belt (the real one).

I don’t know if I like Dana being so quick to name Romero number one contender. Of course, he was the number one ranked guy before the fight. The only reason Rockhold was getting the fight ahead of Romero was because he had just fought Whittaker in his last fight. I mean, that’s what I assumed is the reason since losing a fight hardly plays into UFC’s decision making when it comes to booking title fights.

I also need to realize I’m talking about the guy who gave Li Jiangling an extra $50,000 for losing a fight where he literally tried clawing his opponent’s eyes out. That’s a real fighter right there…

With that thinking in mind, it probably shouldn’t come as a shock that Dana is okay with a fighter who missed weight getting the next title shot. Even if he’s torn into other fighters for missing weight in the past, this is different because did you see how hard Romero hit Rockhold? It was like BAM! So awesome, bro. That’s the kind of rush you can only get from either watching a great knockout or buying a bunch of weapons from the Pawn Stars guys.

At least Whittaker and Romero have history with each other, giving reason for UFC to sit on their hands instead of promoting this fight. I’m guessing they’ll put those resources towards teasing Floyd Mayweather’s MMA debut instead. And you thought 2017 was the UFC’s biggest year ever…

So what now? So now we get ready for Whittaker vs. Romero II. The first fight was a pretty good one, a fight that saw Romero come out strong before Whittaker found a way to adapt and bounce back to a unanimous decision victory. I would have liked to see Bobby Knuckles get a new matchup but I’m fine seeing these go one more time to answer any lingering questions that could still remain from their UFC 213 clash.

That’s so long as Romero doesn’t run afoul of USADA in the meantime. Or comes in contact with any wayward stools.

Don’t think I forgot about all of that, Yoel. Just because everyone is giving you credit for ending all the confusion at 185 (for some reason), don’t think that means I’ve forgotten that you’ve done a lot of questionable things in your career. I sure hope you make weight for the Whittaker rematch, because I’m sure UFC won’t be so keen to give you another shot if you don’t.

Then again, if he doesn’t, who gets the fight? Jacare Souza?

Ah, that’s a good one. I crack myself up sometimes.

Evan Zivin has been writing for 411 MMA since May of 2013. Evan loves the sport, and likes to takes a lighthearted look at the world of MMA in his writing…usually.

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Yoel Romero, Evan Zivin