Though he’s fought nearly 30 times over a 10-year span, welterweight Tat Romero is still relatively unknown outside his native Minnesota.
For some reason or another, Romero has been overlooked, even after winning both his fights in 2014, and having been undefeated for nearly three years total.
“Last year I kind of thought it would be my year to shine,” Romero told MMAWeekly.com. “I didn’t get the attention of any big promotions, but I did get some pretty big wins. I guess I’ll just have to keep plugging away.
“I’ve made my career as being a parole/probation officer the top priority over fighting in my life. The fact I haven’t got the call is what it is, but that’s kind of the way my MMA career has gone, so I’ll just keep working for the opportunity.”
Romero felt this could very well be his make-or-break year, so he stepped up his preparation and was able to get the attention of RFA and finally get a shot at the national stage.
“I knew after my last fight that I’d have to really step up as far as opponents and train my ass off, and that’s exactly what I did,” said Romero. “I trained and trained, I made sacrifices that I normally didn’t do, and it’s been grueling to say the least.
“I finally got the call and I was ready to go. I’ve hooked up with the right trainers, real teams, and I’m more ready mentally and physically for anything in my life.”
On Friday night in Prior Lake, Minn., Romero (24-5) will get the opportunity to show what he’s got against top 170-pound prospect Benjamin Smith (13-2) at RFA 24. The two will battle it out for the promotion’s vacant welterweight championship.
“My whole career I’ve never minded getting hit, and I’ve never fought anybody who made me think I didn’t want to get hit, so I just keep coming forward,” said Romero. “I’m very gritty. What makes my MMA wrestling strong, I’ll sacrifice to get a shot and that’s what makes my takedowns so explosive.”
While he’s pleased to finally get a showcase on the national stage, Romero hopes to make it to the top of the business before he’s done.
“I’ve been doing this for ten years, and while a UFC call will be a dream come true, my life is not won or lost on getting that call,” he said. “I’m just enjoying the ride while it’s here.
“I’m a realist. I’ll be 35 this year. I know my years are numbered. I know I’m not going to be a millionaire from fighting, so it’s more of a passion for me and at the end of the day I love what I do, and this is just a podium to helping other people and making a difference.”