What Yoel Romero really wants is a middleweight title shot: ‘I’m gonna take the belt in Bellator at 185’

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Yoel Romero will gladly take the next fight Bellator has lined up for him, even if it’s not what he truly wants.

Romero (14-6 MMA, 1-1 BMMA) snapped a four-fight losing streak and returned to the win column for the first time in four years Friday at Bellator 280, putting on a masterclass at the expense of Alex Polizzi. For 14 minutes and 59 seconds, Romero was methodical in how he brutalized Polizzi, dropping him four times before winning by TKO at the 4:59 mark of the third round.

Afterward, Bellator announced a re-booked fight between Romero and his original Bellator 280 opponent, Melvin Manhoef, will take place at Bellator Dublin on Sept. 23, and the two men squared off inside the cage at Accor Arena in Paris.

Romero, 45, is fine with fighting Manhoef next. But as he stated prior to Bellator 280, his sights are set on winning the middleweight title.

“Any victory to me is important. They’re all equally important,” Romero told reporters in Spanish through an interpreter. “I’m going to rest about a week. I have no injuries. As you saw, they brought Melvin Manhoef in the cage, but I see further than that. I feel as if I’m gonna do another fight at 185 and continue on the route and to get in line for that belt.”

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If all goes according to plan, Romero would get by Manhoef in September an then fight the winner of the upcoming Bellator 282 headliner between middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi and Johnny Eblen. Ideally, a title shot would happen before the end of the year.

“Yes, of course. I live a very healthy life,” Romero said. “If everything goes well against Manhoef, then I don’t see why I wouldn’t be able to contend for the title belt at 185 next fight.”

Romero’s win over Polizzi was at light heavyweight. The Manhoef fight also will take place at 205 pounds. But Romero is intent on capturing gold at 185 pounds after he couldn’t achieve that in the UFC.

Romero first lost an interim title fight against Robert Whittaker at UFC 213. In his second interim title fight booking, Romero knocked out Luke Rockhold – but he missed weight, which made him ineligible to win the title. Romero missed weight again ahead of an undisputed title shot rematch with Whittaker, which he also lost. Romero’s final UFC bout was a five-round dud against current middleweight champion Israel Adesanya.

Given those shortcomings, it’s easy to see why Romero is fixated on winning middleweight gold in Bellator.

“I have spent almost my entire career at 185,” Romero said. “I didn’t get the belt in the UFC, but I am the best in the world. I’m here now in Bellator, and I’m gonna take the belt in Bellator at 185.”