One very interested party will be watching this Friday’s Vadim Nemkov vs. Corey Anderson fight at Bellator 288 — and that’s Yoel Romero.
Romero (15-6) will face the winner of Nemkov vs. Anderson 2, which closes out Bellator’s light heavyweight grand prix, at Bellator 290 on February 4, 2023. Despite competing at middleweight during his UFC run, Romero has settled in as a 205’er since joining Bellator, and with a couple of wins under his belt, a title shot was all but assured.
CBS Sports was first to report news of Romero’s title shot on Friday.
At age 45, Cuba’s Romero, a former Olympian who won a silver medal at the 2000 games in Sydney, Australia, has showed no signs of slowing down. He won both of his fights in 2022, picking up victories over a top light heavyweight prospect in Alex Polizzi, and a fellow veteran in Melvin Manhoef.
Romero finished both of those fights on the feet, snapping a four-fight losing streak dating back to his UFC run that included bouts against Robert Whittaker, Paulo Costa, and Israel Adesanya — three of the best 185lb fighters on the planet.
As for Anderson and Nemkov, they will look to close out Bellator’s million dollar light heavyweight grand prix on Friday, after an earlier attempt to wrap up the tournament faltered. In April, Corey Anderson looked to be ahead in the pair’s initial meeting when an accidental clash of heads while on the ground rendered champ Nemkov unable to continue. The division has essentially been on hold since, waiting for a winner to emerge.
Yoel Romero currently sits in the #4 spot at light heavyweight, with only Ryan Bader (who has suggested he’ll stick to heavyweight moving forward), Phil Davis, and Anderson ahead of him. Davis, a former Bellator champ himself, has twice lost to Nemkov, though he holds a win over Romero, and has yet to face Anderson.
Bellator 290 takes place on February 4, 2023 at the Kia Forum in Inglewood, California. The Romero fight will serve as the evening’s co-main event, with Fedor Emelianenko vs. Ryan Bader topping the card.