It appears that Yoel Romero will be a Bellator MMA athlete very soon.
The former UFC middleweight title challenger is expected to sign with the California-based promotion and make his debut at 205 pounds in 2021. Though Romero has not officially signed a contract, both sides have agreed to terms. ESPN was first to report the news.
Early reports indicated that Bellator was not interested in signing Romero, who will turn 44 years old in April. However, Bellator and “The Soldier of God” were ultimately able to reach an agreement for a multi-fight deal as Romero’s period of free agency lasted less than two weeks. Romero’s imminent signing comes on the heels of the addition of Anthony Johnson, setting up a potentially tantalizing matchup at light heavyweight in Bellator.
Romero, who suffered a KO loss to Rafael Cavalcante in a 205-pound bout under the Strikeforce banner before moving to middleweight upon signing with the UFC, is 13-5 over the course of a professional career that began in 2009. The Olympic silver medalist established himself as one of the top contenders at 185 pounds during an eight-fight winning streak from 2013 to 2016 that included finishes of the likes of Derek Brunson, Tim Kennedy, Lyoto Machida, Ronaldo Souza and Chris Weidman.
From there, Romero engaged in a pair of epic five-round battles with Robert Whittaker, falling via unanimous decision at UFC 213 and via split decision in the rematch at UFC 225. Many observers believed the Cuban deserved to get the nod the second time around, though he was ineligible to capture 185-pound gold after missing weight. Romero concluded his UFC tenure on a three-bout skid that included the second loss to Whittaker, a closely-contested decision defeat to Paulo Costa at UFC 241 and a baffling performance in a five-round defeat to current champ Israel Adesanya at UFC 248.