PFL vs Bellator: Yoel Romero Scrapes Past Thiago Santos in Slow-Paced Bout

Yoel Romero and Thiago Santos. PFL vs. Bellator
RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA - FEBRUARY 24: Yoel Romero faces off against Thiago Santos during the 2024 PFL vs Bellator: Champs event at Kingdom Arena on February 24, 2024 in Riyadh. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Yoel Romero

Former UFC title challengers Thiago Santos and Yoel Romero faced off at the inaugural PFL vs Bellator pay-per-view event in a slow-paced striking affair.

Although both men are over forty years of age and have had poor records in recent years, they are still recognizable names due to the difficult fights they gave to MMA legends in efforts which almost captured UFC undisputed gold for each of them. Both men are known for their knockout power on the feet but are also prone to long stretches of little to no activity. In the end,

The first round began with both men being cagey, refusing to open up and standing at range, making reads. One inconsequential flurry took place with one minute left when Yoel fell over, but neither man landed a clean punch. The round continued to be slow after that until the final few seconds, with another flurry of missed blows from each man. The round was close due to the inactivity, but Thiago landed more strikes due to leg kicks.

The following round began with a more active leg and body kicking game from Santos, and then a failed takedown attempt from Romero. The pace slowed again thereafter. Yoel used oblique kicks to the historically weak knees of Thiago, trying to put damage in the bank for later. Romero threw a few head kicks that were blocked and Santos tried one flurry at the end of the round but fell over, perhaps due to weakness in his knees.

Going into the final round the scorecards could have said almost anything. Santos stalked forward to start the final round but Yoel Romero reversed that and threw a flying knee into a clinch tie-up. He got double underhooks and tried to take down Santos, who threw short knees and broke away. They both opened up with big swings in the final thirty seconds and Santos seemed to take the worst of it, partially due to his weakened knees, which frequently caused him to stumble.

The decision could of course have gone either way, but when the scorecards were read it was the forty-six year old Yoel Romero who came away with the nod from all three judges.

Official Result: Yoel Romero def. Thiago Santos by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)