Romero in Dagestan, Russia
|Born||Yoel Romero Palacio
April 3, 1974
Pinar del Río, Cuba
|Other names||Soldier of God|
|Residence||Miami, Florida, United States|
|Height||6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)|
|Weight||185.5 lb (84.1 kg; 13.25 st)|
|Reach||73.5 in (187 cm)|
|Style||Freestyle Wrestling, Muay Thai|
|Fighting out of||Coconut Creek, Florida, United States|
|Team||American Top Team|
|Wrestling||Olympic Freestyle Wrestling|
|Mixed martial arts record|
|Notable relatives||Yoan Pablo Hernández, brother|
|Mixed martial arts record from Sherdog|
Yoel Romero Palacio (born April 3, 1977) is a Cuban mixed martial artist (MMA) and former World Champion and Olympic silver medalist in freestyle wrestling. He competes in the middleweight division of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, ranked #2, and formerly competed in the now-defunct Strikeforce organization. As of April 2017, Romero is #15 in pound-for-pound rankings.
Romero competed in both the 2000 Summer Olympics and the 2004 Summer Olympics, representing his home nation of Cuba. He won the silver medal in the 2000 freestyle competition, losing to Adam Saitiev in the finals. He finished in 4th place in 2004. While competing in freestyle wrestling, Romero has defeated 3 different Olympic gold medal winners, and 5 different world champions. Among them were Americans Cael Sanderson and Les Gutches, both of whom Romero has multiple victories over.
He also represented Cuba at the senior level in the FILA Wrestling World Championships, which is held in non-Olympic years, from 1997–2005. At the 1999 World Wrestling Championships Romero became world champ by defeating the 1996 Olympic gold medalist, Khadzhimurad Magomedov of Russia. He controversially missed out on becoming world champ again in 2002. After landing a 3-point throw against Adam Saitiev to take a 3–2 lead, Romero was penalized a point for passivity with 20 seconds remaining. In overtime after a scramble saw Romero end on top, it was judged Saitiev had scored in the interim.
Romero medaled in 5 total world championships, only missing out with his 5th-place finish in 1997, and 6th-place finish in 2003 – a time where he was battling injuries. Other notable achievements include a gold medal at the 2003 Pan American Games, a quadrennial competition held the year before the Olympics, as well as multiple medal-winning finishes at the FILA Wrestling World Cup. Romero competed sparingly after 2005 – he was suspended for all of 2006 by the Cuban Wrestling Federation for allegedly throwing his match against Mindorashvili at the 2005 World Championships. After winning the Grand Prix of Germany in the summer of 2007, he would not return to Cuba, instead staying in Germany.
Romero then joined the Ringer-Bundesliga, a professional wrestling league in Germany, where teams compete for team titles. Romero helped coach and train, as well as started for SV Johannis Nuremberg. Eventually he began to transition into MMA.
Mixed martial arts career
After defecting in 2007 to Germany, Romero made his professional mixed martial arts debut in December 2009.
In the time of 2008–2011 Romero had been trained by Sergej Kuftin (combat sambo & MMA coach) and Zike Simic (kickboxing coach), both – from Peter Althof's "Martial Arts Gym Nuremberg". Over the next 3 years, he amassed an undefeated record of 5–0 in various promotions throughout Germany and Poland.
He won his debut via TKO against Sascha Weinpolter. In his second bout he scored a 62-second finish via TKO against Ricky Pulu. He then took on Polish standout Michał Fijałka in his third bout. After a dominating performance, Yoel won in the third round via TKO, which was at first ruled a controversial disqualification, due to a knee on the ground thrown by Romero. In 2011, he won his next three fights via TKO in the first round.
Romero signed with Strikeforce in July 2011 and made his promotional debut against Rafael Cavalcante on September 10, 2011 at Strikeforce 36. He lost the fight via KO in the second round. A neck injury kept him out of action until 2013.
Ultimate Fighting Championship
Romero made his UFC and middleweight debut against Clifford Starks on April 20, 2013, at UFC on Fox 7. He won the fight via KO in the first round. The win also earned him Knockout of the Night honors.
Romero was expected to face Derek Brunson on August 31, 2013, at UFC 164. However, Brunson suffered an injury and pulled out of the bout. Promotional newcomer Brian Houston was briefly linked as a replacement, however Houston was not medically cleared to compete at the event and the bout was cancelled.
For his third fight, Romero was again set to face Derek Brunson on January 15, 2014, at UFC Fight Night 35. After trailing for two rounds, Romero won the fight in the third via TKO due to punches that dropped Brunson and subsequent elbows to the body. Both fighters earned a $50,000 Fight of the Night bonus award.
Romero faced Tim Kennedy on September 27, 2014, at UFC 178. He won the fight via TKO in the third round, giving Kennedy his first stoppage loss in thirteen years. This fight generated much controversy: Romero was hurt badly at the end of round 2, and received extra time to recover between rounds. UFC color commentator Joe Rogan mistakenly blamed this on Romero's cornermen for failing to leave the Octagon on time, when the blame was actually on a UFC Cutman who apllied too much Vaseline to a cut and referee John McCarthy for allowing Romero to stay sitting while trying to get the cutman to return to the octagon to wipe the excess off. Later it was also noticed that Kennedy was illegally holding Romero's glove while striking him at end of round 2.  The win earned Romero his second Fight of the Night bonus award.
Romero was expected to face Ronaldo Souza on February 28, 2015, at UFC 184. However, Souza pulled out of the fight on January 15, 2015, due to pneumonia. The bout left intact, was rescheduled  for April 18, 2015, at UFC on Fox 15. However, Romero was forced out of the fight by a ligament and meniscus tear in his knee. He was replaced by Chris Camozzi.
Romero faced Lyoto Machida on June 27, 2015, at UFC Fight Night 70. He knocked out Machida at 1:38 of the third round with a series of elbows from top position. Romero was awarded a "Performance of the Night" bonus.
The bout with Ronaldo Souza was scheduled for a third time, eventually taking place on December 12, 2015, at UFC 194. Romero won the fight via split decision. 2 of 17 media outlets scored the bout in favor of Romero.
On January 13, Romero was informed of a potential doping violation stemming from an out of competition test conducted by USADA. On February 8, Romero and his manager explained that he took a supplement after his fight and that supplement turned out to be contaminated. His team and USADA both sent out the supplement for testing and it came back that it contained a banned substance. That substance was not listed on the label, his manager said. They did not want to reveal the name of the supplement or the substance, because USADA was investigating the issue. On March 23, it was announced that Romero would appeal his suspension. His team and USADA discussed a deal for a nine-month suspension for the fighter, but Romero preferred to go to arbitration. The typical USADA anti-doping violation suspension is two years. Eventually on April 4, both parties reached an agreement for a six-month suspension. USADA revealed that Romero tested positive for ibutamoren, a growth hormone release stimulator. An unopened version of the supplement was independently tested and the banned substance did indeed come up, even though it was not listed on the label. Romero announced that he'll pursue legal action against the supplement company within the next few weeks. The result of the Souza fight was not overturned as it was an out of competition test that occurred after the fight – Romero passed both his pre-fight and fight night tests for the Souza fight.
Romero faced former middleweight champion Chris Weidman on November 12, 2016, at UFC 205. He won the fight via knockout in the third round and was awarded a Performance of the Night bonus.
Championships and accomplishments
Mixed martial arts
- Ultimate Fighting Championship
Mixed martial arts record
|Professional record breakdown|
|14 matches||13 wins||1 loss|
|Win||13–1||Chris Weidman||TKO (flying knee and punches)||UFC 205||November 12, 2016||3||0:24||New York City, New York, United States||Performance of the Night.|
|Win||12–1||Ronaldo Souza||Decision (split)||UFC 194||December 12, 2015||3||5:00||Las Vegas, Nevada, United States|
|Win||11–1||Lyoto Machida||KO (elbows)||UFC Fight Night: Machida vs. Romero||June 27, 2015||3||1:38||Hollywood, Florida, United States||Performance of the Night.|
|Win||10–1||Tim Kennedy||TKO (punches)||UFC 178||September 27, 2014||3||0:58||Las Vegas, Nevada, United States||Fight of the Night.|
|Win||9–1||Brad Tavares||Decision (unanimous)||UFC on Fox: Werdum vs. Browne||April 19, 2014||3||5:00||Orlando, Florida, United States|
|Win||8–1||Derek Brunson||TKO (punches and elbows)||UFC Fight Night: Rockhold vs. Philippou||January 15, 2014||3||3:23||Duluth, Georgia, United States||Fight of the Night.|
|Win||7–1||Ronny Markes||KO (punches)||UFC: Fight for the Troops 3||November 6, 2013||3||1:39||Fort Campbell, Kentucky, United States|
|Win||6–1||Clifford Starks||KO (flying knee and punches)||UFC on Fox: Henderson vs. Melendez||April 20, 2013||1||1:32||San Jose, California, United States||Middleweight debut. Knockout of the Night.|
|Loss||5–1||Rafael Cavalcante||KO (punches)||Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Kharitonov||September 10, 2011||2||4:51||Cincinnati, Ohio, United States|
|Win||5–0||Laszlo Eck||KO (punch)||Fight of the Night 2011||May 27, 2011||1||0:33||Greding, Germany|
|Win||4–0||Nikita Petrovs||TKO (retirement)||SFC 3: MMA Fight Night||March 5, 2011||1||2:58||Giessen, Germany|
|Win||3–0||Michał Fijałka||TKO (retirement)||IFF: The Eternal Struggle||October 8, 2010||3||4:05||Dąbrowa Górnicza, Poland|
|Win||2–0||Ricky Pulu||TKO (punches)||Fight of the Night 2010||March 3, 2010||1||1:02||Greding, Germany|
|Win||1–0||Sascha Weinpolter||TKO (punches)||Fight of the Night 2009||December 20, 2009||1||0:48||Nuremberg, Germany|
In a controversial post-fight interview after his victory over Lyoto Machida at UFC Fight Night 70, Romero seemed to express disagreement with the Obergefell v. Hodges supreme court ruling. However, during the post fight press conference and subsequent interviews the following day, Romero denied referring to gay marriage and apologized for his comments while maintaining that they were misunderstood. Many thought Romero said "No for gay Jesus" while he actually said "No forget Jesus" as he is not fluent in English.
- "Light-heavyweight prospect Yoel Romero inks new Strikeforce deal". MMAjunkie.
- "Fight Card – UFC Fight Night Werdum vs. Browne". UFC.com. Retrieved April 21, 2014.
- Chiappetta, Mike (2011-07-27). "Former Olympian Yoel Romero signs with Strikeforce, will face Feijão in debut". MMAfighting.com. Retrieved 2013-11-06.
- UFC Rankings
- "UFC Fighter Rankings".
- Sports References. Sports-reference.com. Retrieved on 2016-11-12.
- "UFC Fight Night 35 Factgrinder: The Wrestling Career of Yoel Romero". bloodyelbow.com. January 15, 2014.
- "Die Wochen der Wahrheit – Doppelkampftag steht an" (in German). www.ringen.de. Retrieved November 18, 2013.
- "Yoel Romero Palacio vs. Michał Fijałka". groundandpound.de. October 5, 2010. (in German)
- "Rafael "Feijao" Cavalcante vs. Yoel Romero slotted for September 10 Strikeforce event". mmajunkie.com. 2011-07-21.
- "Yoel Romero vs Clifford Starks set for UFC on FOX 7". bloodyelbow.com. January 23, 2013.
- "UFC on FOX 7 bonuses: Brown, Mein, Romero, Thomson earn $50,000". MMAjunkie.com. 2013-04-20. Retrieved 2013-04-20.
- "UFC 164 Gains Derek Brunson vs. Yoel Romero". mmaweekly.com. 2013-06-17. Retrieved 2013-06-17.
- "UFC 164 loses Yoel Romero vs. Brian Houston, card finalized with 12 bouts". mmajunkie.com. 2013-08-14. Retrieved 2013-08-14.
- Penick, Jamie (2013-08-23). "UFC Fight for the Troops card adds Yoel Romero vs. Ronny Markes". mmatorch.com. Retrieved 2013-08-23.
- "UFC Fight Night 35 adds Yoel Romero vs. Derek Brunson". mmajunkie.com. 2013-11-26. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
- ""UFC Fight Night 35 Bonuses: Rockhold, Miller, Romero, Brunson Earn $50K Awards", by Mike Whitman, Sherdog.com". Sherdog.
- "#UFCFightNight in Orlando bout update! @bambamhealy vs @GamebredFighter and @BradTavares vs @YoelRomeroMMA. Tix on sale next Friday.". UFC News. 2014-02-04. Retrieved 2014-02-04.
- Simon, Zane (2014-07-08). "Tim Kennedy vs. Yoel Romero slated for UFC 178 in Las Vegas". bloodyelbow.com. Retrieved 2014-07-08.
- "Romero: Kennedy cheated before 'Stoolgate' mess". SB Nation (MMAfighting.com). 20 December 2014. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
- Erickson, Matt (2014-09-28). "UFC 178 bonuses: McGregor, Cruz, Romero, Kennedy earn $50,000". mmajunkie.com. Retrieved 2014-09-28.
- Martin, Brian (2014-11-13). "UFC 184: Jacare Souza vs. Yoel Romero added to Staples Center card". dailynews.com. Retrieved 2014-11-13.
- Gerbasi, Thomas (2015-01-15). "Souza-Romero scratched from UFC 184". UFC.com.
- Erickson, Matt (February 11, 2015). "Yoel Romero vs. 'Jacare' Souza re-booked for UFC on FOX 15 co-main event". MMAjunkie.com.
- Cruz, Guilherme (2015-05-15). "Lyoto Machida vs. Yoel Romero set as new main event for TUF Brazil: 4 Finale in Miami". mmafighting.com. Retrieved 2015-05-15.
- "UFC Fight Night Results: 'Machida vs. Romero' Play-by-Play & Updates". Sherdog.com. 27 June 2015. Retrieved 28 June 2015.
- "UFC Fight Night 70 bonuses: Yoel Romero's elbows bring him $50,000". MMAJunkie.com. 27 June 2015. Retrieved 28 June 2015.
- "'Jacare' Souza vs. Yoel Romero rebooked for UFC 194 in Las Vegas". sherdog.com. 2015-08-17. Retrieved 2015-08-17.
- Brookhouse, Bren (2015-12-12). "UFC 194 results: Yoel Romero decisions Ronaldo Souza in back-and-forth battle". mmajunkie.com. Retrieved 2015-12-12.
- "Yoel Romero def. Ronaldo Souza". MMA Decisions. Retrieved 2015-12-13.
- "UFC statement on Yoel Romero". ufc.com. 2016-01-13. Retrieved 2016-01-13.
- Raimondi, Marc (2016-02-08). "Manager: Contaminated supplement led to Yoel Romero's failed drug test". mmafighting.com. Retrieved 2016-02-09.
- Raimondi, Marc (2016-03-23). "Yoel Romero to appeal USADA suspension for anti-doping policy violation". mmafighting.com. Retrieved 2016-03-23.
- Raimondi, Marc (2016-04-04). "Yoel Romero gets six-month suspension from USADA for failing drug test due to contaminated supplement". mmafighting.com. Retrieved 2016-04-04.
- Raimondi, Marc (2016-02-08). "Manager: Contaminated supplement led to Yoel Romero's failed drug test". MMAFighting.com. Retrieved 2016-07-10.
- Morgan, John and Stupp, Dann (2016-09-15). "Ex-champ Chris Weidman vs. Yoel Romero slated for UFC 205 in New York City". MMAJunkie.com. Retrieved 2016-09-15.
- Ben Fowlkes (2016-11-12). "UFC 205 results: Yoel Romero unleashes vicious knee on Chris Weidman for bloody TKO". mmajunkie.com. Retrieved 2016-11-12.
- Doyle, Dave (2016-11-13). "UFC 205 post-fight bonuses: Conor McGregor leads the pack". MMAFighting.com. Retrieved 2016-11-13.
- Yoel Romero Interview. fightgeeks.com (2014-04-22). Retrieved on 2016-11-12.
- UFC Fight Night 35's Yoel Romero: By the Grace of God. Themmacorner.com (2014-01-06). Retrieved on 2016-11-12.
- New UFC Fighter a Knockout. FitnessRX for Men (2013-11-05). Retrieved on 2016-11-12.
- UFC's Yoel Romero: Ready For Next Step at Middleweight. Themmacorner.com (2013-11-01). Retrieved on 2016-11-12.
- Okamoto, Brett (2015-06-28). "Yoel Romero apologizes but denies making anti-gay remark after KO win". espn.go.com. Retrieved 2015-06-28.