Bellator 297: Yoel Romero says the MMA community ‘knows what happened’ in last title fight appearance

By Zain Bando - June 14, 2023

Yoel Romero has not forgotten what happened the last time he competed in Chicago.

Yoel Romero, Israel Adesanya

The 46-year-old Cuban light heavyweight was on the wrong end of a 2018 middleweight title fight with Robert Whittaker, a fight many believed Romero did enough to earn a decision.

That was in the UFC when middleweight was still looking for a consistent champion post-Anderson Silva’s dominance.

Five years later and on a two-fight win streak of his own, Yoel Romero, now with Bellator, has a chance to rewrite a missed chapter of his storied MMA career. Romero takes on Vadim Nemkov Friday night at Wintrust Arena as part of Bellator 297’s headliner, just a few days removed from the losses anniversary.

Although it is behind him, Romero said Tuesday he feels like he’s in a different place, wanting to make his family, friends, and team proud by earning light heavyweight gold.

Sometimes, it’s impossible to not have memory,” Romero said. “But on some occasions, it’s good to have it. This time I’ve been training, it was to come back here. Everyone knows what happened in that fight. This time, I’ll make sure it’s not the same as last time. So, for my children, I have a different story to tell.”

Yoel Romero said he respects Vadim Nemkov but feels comfortable returning to his usual five-round pace.

“When you’re in a five-round fight, it means something,” Romero said. “It means you’re in a big fight. And if you’re in a big fight, it means you’ve done something right. Now, it’s a title fight.”

Romero is no stranger to title fights, but he said a win could spark plug a much-needed resurgence.

“To be the Bellator champion would be a new beginning for my career,” Romero said. “But I’m not focused on the title; the most important thing is to win the fight.”

Although the fight was rescheduled, Romero said Nemkov’s skillset is one of the best he has ever faced. Regardless of the date, he had to stay ready, he said.

“I’ve been in this game for many years. I know these things happen,” Yoel Romero said. “My mind is very flexible. I knew this fight had to happen. I had to be patient, but it happened. Now we’re here.”

Nemkov vs. Romero isn’t the only title fight of the night, as Sergio Pettis and Patricio Pitbull will lock horns in the night’s bantamweight title co-feature to determine Patchy Mix’s next challenger.

The card starts at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT on the Bellator YouTube channel in the U.S. before transitioning to Showtime for the main card beginning at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.

Can Yoel Romero win Bellator gold? Let us know, Penn Nation!


Bellator Yoel Romero