PFL Challenger Series: Anthony Romero Didn’t Have Fire Under Him in Regional Scene, Adds “Now Is the Time”

Canadian lightweight Anthony Romero returns to action as part of the PFL Challenger Series this week, getting another shot at the big time in the process.

Romero (11-1) appeared on Dana White’s Contender Series a couple of years back, winning his fight but not a UFC contract. It will be a PFL deal hanging in the balance this Friday, in a fight that is arriving at the perfect time for “The Genius.”

“I wanted something big, I wanted a big opportunity. I keep beating people on the regional scene, I believe that was a dominant performance my last fight,” Romero told Cageside Press in a recent exclusive interview. Staying patient, the opportunity Romero was looking for arrived in the form of the Challenger Series. “I didn’t really have a fire under me fighting on the regional scene anymore. Something big was out there, and thankfully PFL was there.”

Romero was first contacted about the Challenger Series in December, though he originally had been tapped as a back-up fighter. “And then they called me again and they said ‘you know what, we changed our mind. We want you on the show.'”

Despite not earning a UFC deal, Southern Ontario’s Romero, considered a top prospect by many the last few years, remains thankful for his Contender Series appearance in 2020.

“I’m glad I was able to display my skills on that show against a high-calibre opponent, and feel that kind of pressure at a young age,” said Romero. “I believe I was 22, turning 23. Who knows where I would have been if I’d got into the UFC, fighting these high-calibre guys. Maybe I wasn’t ready, maybe, who knows. So I’m thankful I got time outside of the UFC or bigger promotions to kind of grow as a fighter, and I believe now is the time. I’m 25-years old, turning 26 the week after the fight, and now is the time.”

Romero never wavered in his belief that if he went after it, another shot in a major promotion would come.

“I was certain, I just needed to push for it. I was getting big opportunities for regional shows, it just didn’t make sense for me,” Romero observed. “I’m at a point where I feel like I’m at the top of one mountain, and I’m ready to jump to the next one.” But again, he reiterated, the fights he was being offered, “it didn’t make sense. They were giving me guys who were these top-level wrestlers, and these top-level strikers, and then they’re going to give me a thousand dollars to fight. And I’m like, ‘it’s not worth it, man.'”

“I own a gym, I make more money with my gym just doing all that stuff. But now that I have the opportunity to perform for a big show and be compensated for it, it’s what I love to do, and that just matches together, and it makes me happy. This is worth it to me, to display my skills and perform.”

On the PFL Challenger Series, Romero has been paired up with Tony Caruso. The Canadian is confident he has what it takes to get the job done.

“I keep saying over and over again, he’s a great opponent. He looks strong, durable, as everyone is in mixed martial arts. Everyone’s pretty tough out there, they like to think they’re tough,” Romero noted. “He seems like a good guy, hasn’t said any hurtful things to me; I like to think I’m a nice guy too, so I’m excited to perform and share the cage with him— but of course I always have that positive mindset in knowing that I’m going to win the fight that night, and I’m going to get that contract that night as well.”

Watch our full interview with Anthony Romero above. The PFL Challenger Series returns this Friday, February 17, 2023 on Fubo Sports Network.