By NAN Sports Editor
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. March 6, 2020: When the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) 248 championship bout gets underway tomorrow night, Sat. March 7th in Las Vegas, a Caribbean born fighter will be in the ring to challenge the current African-born UFC champion. Here’s 10 things to know about him:
1: He is Yoel Romero, 42, who was born in Pinar del Río, Cuba but lives in Miami, FL.
2: Romero is a mixed martial artist and former freestyle wrestler. As a freestyle wrestler, Romero is a former world gold medalist and an Olympic silver medalist. He won six world and Olympic medals in total. Romero started training in wrestling in the 1990s, and eventually representing Cuba at 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 champion by defeating the 1996 Olympic gold medalist, Khadzhimurad Magomedov of Russia.
3: After defecting to Germany in 2007, Romero made his professional mixed martial arts debut in December 2009. Between 2008 and 2011 Romero was 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 three years, he amassed an undefeated record of 5–0 in various promotions throughout Germany and Poland.
4: Romero then joined the Ringer-Bundesliga, a professional wrestling league in Germany, in which teams compete for team titles. Romero competed as a starting member of SV Johannis Nuremberg, as well as helping coach and train the team. Eventually he began to transition into MMA.
5: 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
6: He is currently signed to the UFC, competing in the Middleweight division. As of August 19, 2019, he is #3 in the UFC middleweight rankings.
7: Romero was informed of a potential doping violation stemming from an out-of-competition test conducted by USADA on January 13, 2016 after his bout with Ronaldo Souza on December 12, 2015, at UFC 194, where Romero won the fight via split decision. On February 8, Romero and his manager explained that he had taken a supplement after his fight that turned out to be contaminated. His team and USADA both sent out the supplement for testing and it was confirmed that it contained a banned substance. That substance was not listed on the label, his manager said.
8: Romero pursued legal action against the supplement company, but they never interposed an answer. After being awarded default judgment, Romero was awarded $27 million in damages: $3 million for lost wages, $3 million for reputable harm, and $3 million for emotional damage, all of which were tripled as allowed by the New Jersey “Consumer Fraud Act” when a company is “found out to have committed consumer fraud.”
9: Despite having never become champion, Romero’s credentials as an Olympic wrestler and abilities inside the UFC have earned him several comparisons to the greats of the sport. He has several notable victories against former world champions, as well his rivalry with former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker. Due to both his explosiveness and power, he is widely regarded as one of most athletic fighters to ever grace the octagon.
10: Romero is scheduled to face Adesanya on March 7, 2020 UFC 248 for the UFC middleweight title Adesanya will be defending his middleweight title in Saturday’s main event, which gets underway at 8 p.m. on ESPN.