Joe Rogan once said about Romero, “If you look up athletic freak in the dictionary, Yoel Romero comes to mind”. Yoel Romero, nicknamed “Soldier of God”, is a 43 year-old Cuban fighter, who’s been competing in combat sports at a high level since the 1990’s. His career started in freestyle wrestling in which he won 3 gold medals and many other medals including silver at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.
Since joining the UFC in 2013, Romero has proved to be one of the most explosive and powerful fighters in the middleweight division having achieved 13 wins from 18 professional bouts.
His fighting style leverages his monstrous wrestling pedigree perfectly, making full use of flying knees, spinning strikes, takedowns and grappling but the power that goes behind these moves is pure patented Romero! He’s always the aggressor in a bout, constantly putting pressure on his opponent and moving forward to initiate the exchanges and control the cage.
Curious to find out more about this beast of combat? Then follow on as we countdown Yoel Romero’s Top 5 MMA Finishes (in descending order)!
- Vs. Luke Rockhold — UFC 221 (Feb. 11, 2018)
- Vs. Clifford Starks — UFC on Fox 7 (April 20, 2013)
- Vs. Tim Kennedy — UFC 178 (Sept. 27, 2014)
- Vs. Derek Brunson — UFC Fight Night 35 (Jan. 15, 2014)
- Vs. Chris Weidman — UFC 205 (Nov. 12, 2016)
Before this fight, Yoel Romero came off of a loss against Robert Whittaker for the interim UFC middleweight belt in July 2017.
The first round saw Rockhold landing his signature leg kicks, while Romero struggled to find range and missing several overhand punches. Romero got the best of Rockhold to open the second round though with a flurry of connecting punches that backed Rockhold to the fence, before both fighters settled into tanding and trading blows in the centre of the octagon. Rockhold confidently landed plenty strikes of his own.
Similar action began the third round when Romero landed a left that sent Rockhold to the mat, whilst another left froze him. This is where Romero got the KO giving him his eleventh win by KO/TKO of his career.
It was Yoel Romero’s UFC debut in the middleweight (185lb) division against Clifford Starks on April 20, 2013, at the UFC on Fox 7 event.
At the beginning of the bout, Yoel mainly landed kicks on Clifford. Starks tried to shoot for a takedown, which Romero counter-attacked with a flying knee. The Cuban wrestler secured his win with a flurry of ground and pound.
Winning the fight via KO in the very first round, also earned him the Knockout of the Night bonus.
UFC 178 was huge, so much so that the two fighters who were each on a 4-win streak didn’t have their names and photos on the official poster for the event. However, news of the fight weighed heavily in the mind of the middleweight world.
Tim Kennedy already had more than 10 years’ experience with a very complete fighting style, and Yoel Romero had conceded only one defeat at this time since his transition from wrestling to MMA.
While the first round seemed to the advantage of the “Soldier of God”, the former American soldier largely won the second round with a decent guillotine attempt and more than 40 blows to the face.
At 10 seconds from the end of the round, Tim Kennedy took advantage of his opponent’s tiredness to pour on a series of blows that would cut Romero. Fortunately for the Cuban, the bell saved him just when he seemed to have trouble absorbing the high-impact blows of the American.
The fight was controversial due to the interval between the second and third round. Indeed, the corner of the Cuban got an additional 40 seconds of rest following an official’s forgetting to bring the stool into the octagon to remove a large glob of petroleum jelly that was applied to Romero’s wound.
Unfortunately for Tim Kennedy, that half-minute odd rest allowed Yoel Romero to recover his power. Just 10 seconds from the start of the round, he connected with a devastating 1-2 strike to put the American on the ground and trigger a minute of pure punishment. Finally, big John McCarthy stopped the fight resulting in a victory by TKO for Yoel Romero.
Despite the public hissing at the announcement of the victory, the bout won Romero the Fight of the Night bonus. Tim Kennedy was left to his bitter defeat letting Romero know his inability to contain what just happened, behind the scenes.
Derek Brunson put together a solid first two rounds against Yoel Romero and was leading on all three judges’ scorecards heading into the third round.
Brunson was considered the underdog to Romero, the Olympic wrestler remember, from Cuba. For the first two rounds, it was Brunson controlling the fight – including landing several takedowns. But in the third round, Romero came out gunning for a finish.
Yoel said after the fight that he knew he was down two rounds, so getting a stoppage was the only way he was going to stay unbeaten in the UFC, where he had, by that point, already accumulated three wins by knockout.
Romero landed some solid punches midway through the third round, and with Brunson’s mouthpiece on the canvas, Romero landed some big bombs on the ground too, finishing Brunson with vicious elbow shots to the body. As if the loss itself wasn’t bad enough for Brunson to swallow, he also suffered a broken jaw as a result of the fight and was taken to a local hospital for surgery.
This was the bout to earn Romero his first ‘Fight of the Night’ bonus in the UFC.
After a layoff of eleven months (since UFC 194 and a win over Ronaldo ‘Jacaré’ Souza by split decision) Romero was back in the octagon to face Chris Weidman for a title eliminator.
The first round was for the Olympic wrestler and the second, went to the former middleweight king, the third and final one was the crucial one.
Here, both landed kicks with Weidman attempting a takedown. Unfortunately for the ‘All American’, Yoel counter-attacked with a flying knee. Weidman, knocked down, was unable to recover and Romero capitalized on his win with several strikes before the referee called the fight.
It was the second Performance of the Night win for the Cuban in the UFC and this important win lead him to his interim middleweight shot in 2017.