Yoel Romero squared off against Luke Rockhold in the main event of UFC 221 for interim middleweight title bout last week, Romero decked former UFC middleweight champion Rockhold with a hellacious third-round knockout.
‘The solider of God’ landed insane amount of strikes and targeted Rockhold’s head so many time. None was more devastating than the final blow, as Romero says his bout against Luke was very, very personal.
It is clear that Yoel Romero is not a fan of Rockhold. That beef stems from Romero’s 2016 run-in with USADA, and more specifically, Luke turned Judas and started criticizing him for a failed drug test things went south in a hurry.
“You remember one day when you talked to me, I said I have only one list, a blacklist? He [was] on the blacklist,” Romero said on The MMA Hour via MMA Fighting. “He knows why. He knows why. Because he talked a lot of (trash). After USADA, when that happened, when I had this problem with USADA, he talked (trash). Before USADA, before, every time when he saw me, whether (in) Vegas or when the UFC made something like the (athlete) retreat, he’d say, ‘Hey, what’s up, my man? You want to go out with me? I need a party.’ I’d say, okay, come on, let’s go, no problem,” revealed Romero.
“When I [was hanging out] with him, he was like a friend. He’d [put his arm around me] like this, ‘Yoel, what’s up?’ And every time, he asked me the big question. Every time, he asked me: ‘Hey Yoel, you want to fight with me?’ I’d say, ‘What?’ (He’d say,) ‘Yeah, so you want to fight?’ I’d say, ‘No, no, no. Wait, wait, wait, wait. That’s not the question. The question is, do you want to fight me?’ He’d say, ‘No, no, no. I don’t want to fight with you.’ So I’d say, ‘Okay, so you don’t want to fight me and I don’t want to fight you? That’s it.’”
Romero said he considered Rockhold a friend at that point, things become sour when Rockhold started banging him in the media for his USADA drug test failure.
“When I had the problem with USADA, he and Michael Bisping were the two guys, the first two guys, who were talking a lot of (trash) about me. Okay, Bisping is Bisping. I don’t have a relationship, nothing (like a) relationship with this guy. But with [Rockhold]? Man, you talked like this about me? I said, okay. Because maybe he’s thinking, ‘Okay, this guy, 39 years old, the minimum (suspension) is two years out. (He’ll be) 41. Right? Bye bye, Yoel.’
Of course, USADA handed Yoel Romero six months of suspension instead of 24 after it was disclosed that Romero had not knowingly taken any banned substances.
“But God is good every time, and I’m still here. And now, that’s why when the UFC called me, I said yes about the fight. That’s why I said at the (UFC 221) weigh-in, when he said, ‘I am a professional,’ I said, ‘I am a professional too. I’m still here for you. I’m coming for you. Not for the belt. I stayed here for you, because this is a big opportunity — I can fight you. Everything is because you talked so bad about me. You need to pay. You need to pay.’ That’s it.”
Just seconds after finishing Luke Rockhold, Romero approached Rockhold who was trying to regain his consciousness and kissed Rockhold’s head several times -which resulted in a meme frenzy — and backlash from Michael Bisping.
“In this moment, I said, ‘Hey, Luke. I love you,’” Romero explained. “‘I love you. You remember the time when you were staying with me, hanging out, and you said, ‘Do you want to fight me?’ I said, ‘You remember? And you see what happened after USADA? You remember? I’m still here. I love you.’ He didn’t [say] anything, because he knows. He knows.”
After this win, Yoel Romero will get a chance to avenge a decision loss against Whittaker he took at UFC 213 back in July of 2017, the rematch is expected to go down later this year.