On paper, that doesn’t seem like such a controversial call. After all, not only is Romero (13-2 MMA, 9-1 UFC) coming off a big upset win over former champion Luke Rockhold (16-4 MMA, 6-3 UFC), he accomplished it in undeniably impressive manner – after taking the UFC 221 scrap on short-notice, no less.
It also helps that Romero didn’t exactly embarrass himself when he first met Whittaker (19-4 MMA, 10-2 UFC) in the UFC 213 headliner, though ultimately he dropped a unanimous decision that earned the now-undisputed champ interim honors.
It’s what happened right before the Rockhold encounter, however, that put an asterisk on Romero’s knockout win: He missed weight. And, while it did cost him the chance to claim the interim belt that night, it quickly became clear it would probably not hinder other, bigger title opportunities in the future.
The miss came at an interesting time, too, in which discussions around just how much these few-pound differences play a role come fight time. Just recently, at UFC Fight Night 125, John Dodson refused a fight with Pedro Munhoz in light of his opponent’s miss. And when a heavy Michel Prazeres went on to demolish Desmond Green the day after, Dodson’s call seemed even wiser.
In Romero’s case, the weight has been pointed to by fans – and even some fellow UFC middleweights – as a factor that should be taken into account when it comes to the shot.
But, as our readers proved in MMAjunkie’s Daily Debate, Romero has quite a few people on his side. That’s the case of retired UFC and Bellator vet Jay Hieron, now an actor, who believes Romero has paid the price and should no longer be faulted for what happened.
“He got penalized,” Hieron told MMAjunkie Radio. “He’s not all happy right now. He got 30 percent of his purse taken, which is a lot. He has the belt – in his own stomach, in his own house right now, he could be interim belt champion, which he’s not.
“He’s penalized. But you go out and put a performance on like that, you can’t argue that. He should definitely get the shot.”
In Romero’s case, there are a few extenuating factors. He did take the bout on short-notice, stepping in for the injured Whittaker. He had never formally missed weight before. And, after initially missing by three pounds, he took the extra allotted time to try and cut more.
Ultimately, though, Romero was only able to cut an additional third of a pound. That cost him not only the interim title, but a 30 percent fee that amounted to $105,000 from his fight purse. He also became ineligible for any post-fight bonuses.
Hieron, who’s felt the effects of weight-cutting first-hand, can sympathize. He understands fighters have their routines and that Romero, who was originally supposed to fight David Branch two weeks later at UFC on FOX 28, had his disrupted with the trip to Australia and the timeline change.
“I get it,” Hieron said. “You’re in a different country. You’re in a totally different timeframe. You’ve retained water, so it’s already not going as planned. I get it.”
There’s the argument that, if taking the fight on less than a month’s notice was an issue, Romero could have always, quite simply, not taken the fight. But, then again, not many fighters would be willing to turn down such a huge opportunity.
“He probably thought he could make weight,” Hiero said. “It doesn’t matter. You go out and seal the deal like that against the No. 1 contender, the guy that was the former champion, the guy that was supposed to fight for the belt. And you’re the replacement? You take him out in that fashion, there’s no questions.
“You’re the next challenger. No fighter would say no and it doesn’t matter: After everything that happened, he went out there and sealed the deal. He’s the one that’s being penalized. He’s the one that has to feel everything. All the fans can say what they want.”
To hear more from Hieron, check out the video above.
And for more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.
MMAjunkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia, Brian “Goze” Garcia and Dan Tom. For more information or to download past episodes, go towww.mmajunkie.com/radio.
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: Jay Hieron: UFC's Yoel Romero has paid price for weight miss, title shot is fair