When it comes to UFC roster reduction, Yoel Romero could be just the beginning.
The former middleweight title challenger was surprisingly released from his contract late last week despite reportedly having three fights remaining on his existing deal. The 43-year-old American Top Team standout is currently on a three-fight losing streak, but his last appearance was a decision loss to Israel Adesanya in a title bout at UFC 248 in March — and that matchup came at the request of the reigning champion.
At Saturday’s UFC on ESPN 19 post-fight press conference, UFC president Dana White indicated that Romero won’t be the only high-profile release in the coming weeks.
“It’s not just Yoel,” White said. “We’re going to go through some serious cuts here at the end of the year. We’re probably going to have 60 cuts before the first of the year. Yoel has lost four of his last five. He’s 44 years old.
“Our roster is very inflated right now. We’re going to have some big cuts coming before the end of the year. You’re going to see a lot of names going here in the next several weeks.”
Though Romero had fallen on tough times of late, the Olympic silver medalist notably authored an eight-bout winning streak in UFC competition from 2013 to 2016 that included victories against the likes of Chris Weidman, Ronaldo Souza, Lyoto Machida, Tim Kennedy and Derek Brunson.
Romero was earning a hefty salary from the promotion before being cut: “The Soldier of God” made a disclosed $350,000 for his loss to Adesanya in March and $150,000 for a matchup with Paulo Costa at UFC 241 one bout prior. White said there were no other external issues involving Romero’s release.
“Nothing like that,” White said. “No, we’re just literally starting to go through the list. He’s 44, he’s lost four of his last five and these are the tough decisions you’ve got to make.”