Sometimes these things happen in MMA.
CBS Sports, the broadcast partner of Bellator MMA, announced late Thursday night that the Bellator 258 grand prix pairing of Yoel Romero (13-5) vs. Anthony Johnson (22-6) has been canceled. Romero failed his pre-fight medical tests, and he has been forced out of the light heavyweight tournament altogether. It is unclear if Johnson will remain on the event at this time.
Although Julius Anglickas was tapped as an alternate to the tournament after his win over Gregory Milliard at Bellator 257, the organization has not stated if Anglickas will be able to compete in a week. Bellator plans on announcing an additional alternate for this pairing as well. Both Romero and Johnson were once booked for Bellator 257, but it was pushed last month for undisclosed reasons. Per the promotion, Romero will not be eligible to compete for the next three months, while it does intend on making them square off one day.
“Romero will become eligible to apply for clearance to compete in three months,” the promotion wrote in a statement obtained by CBS Sports, “and we look forward to seeing him make his Bellator debut in the near future. Bellator MMA will look to reschedule the highly anticipated Johnson versus Romero matchup at a future date.”
Both men were looking to make their promotional debuts at this event. Romero was to make his return to the light heavyweight division after beginning his career with five bouts at 205 pounds. His knockout loss to Rafael Cavalcante at a 2011 Strikeforce prompted his drop down to middleweight, where he fought for the Ultimate Fighting Championship twice. Two additional matchups for UFC gold were scuttled for Romero when he missed weight, in which “Soldier of God” became the first fighter in company history to miss weight for more than one championship bout. Romero currently sports a knockout rate of 85 percent, although he has not recorded a win since 2018.
While Romero last won in 2018, Johnson has not competed since 2017, where he fell short for the UFC’s light heavyweight title against Daniel Cormier. The bout was a rematch of their 2015 meeting, and Cormier tapped Johnson in both bouts. Throughout his storied career, which sees “Rumble” celebrate a 73 percent knockout rate, Johnson has beaten the likes of Glover Teixeira, Alexander Gustafsson, Ryan Bader and Andrei Arlovski in a career that was once at welterweight.
Bellator 258 will still carry on at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., on May 7, and the headliner remains a bantamweight title tilt between Juan Archuleta and Sergio Pettis. Also serving on the main card is a lightweight clash pitting Patricky Freire against Peter Queally, while Michael Page takes on Derek Anderson at welterweight.