Post-fight interviews with fighters can be awkward, just ask Ben Rothwell.
They can be unpredictable and sometimes confusing. Following his UFC Fight Night 70 knockout win over Lyoto Machida on Saturday, Yoel Romero delivered an on-air rant that was all of the above.
“What happened to you USA? What happened to you? What’s going on? You forget that the best of the best of the world, the name is Jesus Christ. What happened to you? Wake up USA,” Romero said wearing a headband embroidered with “John 3:16.”
What he said next has been hotly debated. Romero is Cuban. His English is broken and rough. His heavy accent and poor enunciation resulted in viewers hearing two vastly different things.
Some heard the 38-year-old say, “Go for Jesus, not forget Jesus, people,” while others heard, “Go for Jesus, not for gay Jesus, people.”
Social media exploded in response and Romero got wind of the controversy backstage following the event.
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“I was told there was a misunderstanding on social media, so I wanted to clarify,” he said.
During the event’s post-fight press conference, Romero explained what he was really talking about during his post-fight speech.
“First of all, I’d like to apologize if there was a misunderstanding. I’m a man of God, and God is love. My expressions are always going to be about love. What I was trying to say in the Octagon was, ‘Live for the American dream.’ There was a misunderstanding about gay marriage,” said the fighter that goes by the moniker “Soldier of God.”
“And I want to say something. God told Mary Magdalene, ‘You’re a prostitute. Go and don’t sin anymore.’ And he told her with love. Who am I to judge anybody? Even though I didn’t refer to that, even though there was a misunderstanding, I will tell you guys something. God made man to be free. Anybody can do whatever they want,” continued Romero.
“I wouldn’t be the type of person to critique anybody. I’ve got to look at myself first, be a better person, to be able to love people. What I was trying to say, the United States, thank you for giving me the American dream. There is no better country because it is blessed by God. It’s in the dollars that this country was made by Christian people. That means it’s blessed by God,” he added.
Regardless what he said or meant in his post-fight speech, the controversy has overshadowed the statement Romero made by knocking out the fourth-ranked middleweight in the world.