Former UFC title challenger Yoel Romero has officially signed with Bellator and is expected to move up in weight to compete in the light heavyweight division.
“The Soldier of God” has found a home after just two weeks on the free market. ESPN’s Ariel Helwani reports that former UFC title challenger Yoel Romero has signed a deal with Bellator MMA and that he is expected to move up in weight to compete in the light heavyweight division. There is no word yet on who his first opponent will be or when he will be making his promotional debut.
The news comes after reports that Bellator and PFL were uninterested in signing the 44 year old Olympic silver medalist after he was released from the UFC earlier this month. Per Bellator President Scott Coker, Bellator was simply “happy with the roster” they currently had and were uninterested in bringing in Romero. Despite this, there has been continued fan interest and desire to see him compete in a major promotion that Bellator has seemingly heard and responded to.
Bellator has frequently defended their stance that they hold the best light heavyweight roster in mixed martial arts, including against the more well-known UFC. The promotion currently boasts current champion Vadim Nemkov, current heavyweight champion and former two-division champion Ryan Bader, Phil Davis, and this year signed UFC veterans Corey Anderson and Anthony “Rumble” Johnson.
Yoel Romero leaves the UFC after going 9-4 in the promotion and competing for the middleweight championship three times (or he would have, were it not for missing weight on one occasion): twice against Robert Whittaker and once against Israel Adesanya. His fight against Adesanya this past March was his last fight in the promotion. His last victory was against Luke Rockhold via third round KO in 2018. Romero was expected to fight Uriah Hall in August before withdrawing from the bout due to undisclosed reasons. He was released from the UFC with three fights remaining on his contract.