Yoel Romero was in line for a shot at the UFC middleweight championship after a knockout win over Chris Weidman at UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden in New York City back in November, but he is going to have to wait a little longer than expected.
Romero was benched by the Ultimate Fighting Championship for the returning Georges St-Pierre, who will come out of a nearly 40-month retirement to face current middleweight champion Michael Bisping at a yet-to-be-determined date in 2017.
“I’m going to duck and dodge him for as long as I can,” UFC president Dana White joked at a press conference announcing the Bisping-St-Pierre bout. “We’re going to take care of him. We’ll obviously take care of Yoel, and Georges is coming back. It’s not like Georges has a lot of time. He wanted this fight. Mike wanted this fight. I’m sure the fans want to see this fight, so we did it. I’ll take care of Yoel. I’ll handle it.”
In succession, Romero has beaten Lyoto Machida, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and Weidman, all of whom have been middleweight or light-heavyweight champions in the UFC or Strikeforce.
Romero has won eight straight fights, all of which have come under the UFC banner. He last lost a fight to Rafael Cavalcante via a knockout in a Strikeforce show on September 10, 2011.
“If he’s so good, then just keep beating people,” Bisping said of advice for Romero. “Georges doesn’t have the style to hurt me. I could show a text message to Dana right now that said, ‘Georges will not hurt me, and six weeks after this fight, I’ll fight Yoel Romero.’ So, Yoel, sit on the (expletive) stool, do whatever you want to do. I’ll be here.”
A top-ranked middleweight contender, Romero earned a technical knockout victory over Weidman, whom shot in for a takedown attempt only to be hit in the head by a flying left flying knee that knocked both fighters off-balance.
After regaining his balance following the collision, Romero landed a vicious right hand to Weidman’s left ear/temple. On their way to the canvas, Romero’s knee contacted the back of Weidman’s head, which further dazed the former champion.
Then, Romero followed up with a sharp left-handed punch and two more with his right before finishing the bout with alternating rights and lefts that forced the referee’s stoppage.
“He’s an amazing fighter,” Bisping said. “It’s as simple as that. He’s a physical specimen. He’s a wrestler. He’s got knockout power. He is the rightful No. 1 contender. I don’t make the fights. I accept fights, simple as that. Georges does, and that’s the difference. When has Dana ever called me and I turned a fight down? Never, so Yoel will get it next, simple as that because I will beat Georges.
“I will beat Georges, everybody knows that. Georges, good luck buddy. I wish you the best. I respect you. I respect your camp. I plan on beating Georges. Of course, there’s two horses in every race and Georges plans on beating me. If I beat Georges, I will fight Yoel on a quick turnaround because he deserves to fight.”