Prior to his UFC release, Yoel Romero had a specific game plan for Israel Adesanya that never had the opportunity to materialize: kill or be killed.
At UFC 248, Yoel Romero received what many believed would be his last opportunity to be a UFC world champion. After all, Romero was 42 years old and had already received a shot at the undisputed middleweight championship. So with the possibility of this being Romero’s title shot, there was expected to be a sense of urgency present in his performance. Instead, fans bore witness to arguably the most conservative performance of Romero’s entire career in a fight that lacked steady action.
Yoel Romero lost to Adesanya by unanimous decision in what turned out to be his final fight in the promotion that night. And upon his UFC release, he could not help but lament the fact that he was not allowed to get redemption for this loss to Adesanya by taking an entirely different and much more aggressive approach.
“I would have never expected this,” Romero told ESPN of his UFC release through his translator. “I was training…not extra hard, but training with an intensity that I was gonna run through my next two fights, get another shot at Izzy, and once I was in there, I was going in to take his head off, where either you take my head off or I’m taking your head off.”
Yoel Romeo likens his unactualized game plan to the approach he took in his rematch against Robert Whitaker in 2017, a fight that saw Romero increase both his striking output and accuracy percentage in comparison to their initial bout.
“The first time I fought with Whittaker, I wrestled a little more,” Romero said. My second fight with him, I changed the strategy and I went in there to take his head off. And that was the same plan I had for Izzy: to win the next two fights, go back in and take his head off.”
Romero and fans will both have to live with what could have been, as the door is now closed on Yoel Romero and Israel Adesanya competing again now that Romero has signed with Bellator MMA in what is likely the last stop in the 43-year-old’s career.
What do you think of Yoel Romero’s assertion that he would have taken a much more aggressive approach in an Israel Adesanya rematch?
This article first appeared on MMANews.com on 12/21/2020