01 Jan Four-time UFC title challenger Yoel Romero released from contract
“Soldier of God” Yoel Romero is no longer under contract with the UFC after seven years with the promotion.
Romero’s longtime manager Malki Kawa confirmed the middleweight’s release to MMA Fighting on Friday evening after an initial report from ESPN.com.
According to ESPN, Romero had three fights remaining on his contract. The 43-year-old Cuba native is “ready to move on now and resume his career, and we are already talking to other promotions as we speak,” Kawa said. It’s not immediately clear what led up to Romero’s release.
Considered one of the most durable fighters in the octagon, Romero made his way to the UFC after a stint in the now-defunct Strikeforce, which was acquired by the UFC in 2011. He quickly established himself as a top contender and won eight straight fights between 2013 and 2016, capped by a flying knee knockout of ex-champ Chris Weidman. This performance earned Romero both a Performance of the Night bonus and a shot at interim champion Robert Whittaker.
In a wildly competitive fight, Romero and Whittaker battled for five rounds before “The Reaper” was declared the winner via unanimous decision. Romero bounced back with a knockout win of Luke Rockhold in another interim title bout – Whittaker was later promoted to undisputed champ – but was ruled ineligible for the title when he missed weight.
Romero still got another shot at the belt and Whittaker, but again came in heavy for a title bout and was ineligible to win gold. Whittaker still won the fight, which headlined UFC 225, via split decision.
Scorecards have not been kind to Romero since, with decision losses to Paulo Costa and current champ Israel Adesanya in his second bid for the undisputed belt. Romero got the title shot when Costa was forced to undergo bicep surgery and was unable to challenge Adesanya.