Middleweight contender Yoel Romero nearly didn’t fight Luke Rockhold at UFC 221, according to his manager.
Romero’s participation was in question up until three hours prior to his stunning win this past Saturday at Perth Arena in Perth, Australia, Malki Kawa today told MMAjunkie Radio.
“He almost pulled out of the fight,” Kawa said. “The man rehydrated, went to sleep the next morning, and still he wasn’t feeling the best. He even told me, ‘I’m not 100 percent.’ He could have fooled me.”
Kawa said the strain of cutting weight on short notice and the stress of traveling halfway around the world badly affected Romero (13-2 MMA, 9-1 UFC), who’s known as one of the bigger middleweights on the UFC’s roster. After initially missing weight by three pounds for the interim middleweight title bout against Rockhold (16-4 MMA, 6-3 UFC), he went back to the sauna with three hours to make the limit.
Kawa said Romero gave everything he could and still wound up shedding only an additional third of a pound. UFC executive Donna Marcolini even sat with the fighter in the sauna for the last hour for encouragement, and still he could not sweat.
Romero had barely slept the night before and was cramping up on the day of the fight, Kawa furthered.
Critics immediately questioned Romero’s professionalism given the huge gap between his weight and his required target. His manager dismissed the idea that Romero sought an advantage and estimated a weight-miss fine cost Romero a whopping $105,000.
“Nobody that I know wants to lose $100,000 over three pounds,” Kawa said. “The man wasn’t trying to do that. He tried, and he couldn’t do it. He paid the penalty.”
Given Romero’s turnaround in the octagon, Kawa said the 40-year-old Cuban-born competitor should be considered among the best to fight in the UFC.
Romero didn’t emerge from his meeting with Rockhold unscathed; he immediately sat down on the canvas nursing a leg injury. Doctors eventually found a deep bone bruise that will require one-to-two weeks of healing.
When he spoke with MMAjunkie, Kawa was about to meet with Romero to determine when he’ll be able to face champ Robert Whittaker, who’s also recovering from health issues that forced him out of UFC 221.
Whittaker’s timeline will be the biggest factor in determining when he faces Romero, Kawa said. Although manager likes the idea of a showdown at UFC 225, which takes place June 9 at United Center in Chicago, he said the date could be any time this summer.
“I’m thinking that (UFC 225) might be the card, only because his leg is just a deep shin bruise, and he’ll be off of it for this week and maybe next week,” Kawa said. “I think it’s enough time. The thing is Whittaker; his health is the one in question right now. The poor guy had staph and then he got the chicken pox, so if he’s healthy and able to have a full training camp. I’m going to figure that out today.”
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 to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: Manager: Yoel Romero nearly didn't fight at UFC 221, UFC 225 possible for return