Yoel Romero surprised by UFC release: ‘Completely unexpected’

“First and foremost, it was something that was completely unexpected. I was already training very hard, getting ready. We were already thinking of fighting in January or February at 185 or 205. We were looking to fight with the top three in either division. My managers explained this to the presidency, the top of the UFC.”

Former UFC middleweight title challenger Yoel Romero made headlines across the sport recently, when UFC officials surprisingly released him from his contract.

Romero was ranked No. 5 in the UFC middleweight rankings at the time of his release, but his age and recent record were reasons given by UFC president Dana White for cutting him loose. White also indicated that Romero was just one of about 60 fighters that would be released by the end of 2020.

“Yoel has lost four of his last five. He’s 44 years old,” White said.

“It’s not just Yoel. We’re going to go through some serious cuts here at the end of the year. We’re probably going to have 60 cuts before the first of the year,” White added.

“Our roster is very inflated right now. We’re going to have some big cuts coming before the end of the year. You’re going to see a lot of names going here in the next several weeks.”

Still, Romero’s cut came as a surprise not just to fans and pundits, but to Romero himself, who had been gearing up to continue his run at a UFC championship.

“(The UFC) wanted (me) to fight with Uriah Hall, Derek Brunson, and we explained to them that it didn’t make sense for (me) to fight with these young men. We had an idea we were chasing, the world title,” Romero said in a recent interview with ESPN via a translator.

“My managers were back and forth non-stop with the matchmakers and with (UFC president Dana White),” Romero said. “They came back to us with an offer to fight Johnny Walker at 205. At 205, we wanted whomever triumphed between (Thiago Santos) or Glover (Teixeira).”

Romero lost four of his last five fights at middleweight. Three of the five bouts were supposed for the middleweight title or the interim belt. He missed weight for two of the three title fights.

But even though he was prepared to move up to 205 pounds, UFC officials and Romero’s team couldn’t seem to come to terms on an opponent. That’s when the UFC decided to cut him loose, according to Romero.

“The managers were initially saying we wanted to fight with Dominick Reyes, Glover Teixeira, ‘Marreta’ (Thiago Santos), or Anthony Smith, and it was kind of like a back and forth, kind of quiet on their end. Once they reached back it was to (tell me) that we couldn’t come to an agreement and they were going to commit to the release,” Romero explained.

“I would have never expected this.”

Romero has since inked a multi-fight contract with Bellator MMA, where he is expected to debut in the promotion’s light heavyweight division sometime in early 2021.

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