A stacked Bellator 297 card at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago, IL this Friday is topped by a light heavyweight title fight that sees Yoel Romero getting one more (and likely last) chance to claim gold in a major promotion.
The former multi-time UFC middleweight tile challenger now calls the 205lb division home, and has won his last two fights, both by stoppage. At age 46, the Cuban Olympian remains a threat, but he goes up against the most successful light heavyweight champion in Bellator history in Vadim Nemkov.
“I feel great. This is a fantastic moment for me, for my career. This is very important for my career, to get this belt,” Romero (15-6) said during a media day in Chicago on Tuesday. “This moment, I feel is the moment. It’s a great moment for me, for my life, for my family.”
Asked about what skills Nemkov has to offer, and if he’s on another level from some of Romero’s prior foes, “The Soldier of God” replied “Every fight is different. I’ve fought very good fighters before. They all have something special. He’s an exceptional, amazing fighter. I don’t think [Vadim]’s above or below the level of the fighters I’ve fought before. It is what it is.”
Romero is returning to the scene of the crime so to speak, having fought Robert Whittaker at UFC 225 in Chicago. He lost the fight by split decision, a result many considered a robbery at the time. Missing weight made him ineligible to win the belt that night, but had things gone differently, Romero might have been a champ.
Calling it “an odd memory,” Romero added that “on some occasions, it’s good to remember, and believe in those things that motivate me. When I trained, it was to come back and fight here. Years ago, I was a champion of another company. Everyone knows what happened in that fight.”
That loss to Whittaker turned out to be both Fight of the Night and Fight of the Year in 2018. Now that he’s back, Romero continued, “This time I’ll make sure it’s not the same as last time. So for the day I tell my children, I’ll have another story to tell them.”
Watch the full Bellator 297 media day appearance by Yoel Romero above.