After Yoel Romero barked into the camera like a dog center-cage, he loudly declared to a raucous Dublin crowd what he wants next – and that’s a crack at middleweight gold.
In the Bellator 285 co-main event Friday, Romero (15-6 MMA, 2-1 BMMA) brutally knocked out a retiring Melvin Manhoef (32-16-1 MMA, 4-5 BMMA) with elbows in the third round. The victory was his second in a row for the promotion, but both victories were at light heavyweight.
Romero is adamant about a middleweight run. Even though Bellator president Scott Coker likes what he sees at light heavyweight, he revealed post-fight that he won’t stand in the way of a weight drop.
“Yoel wants to fight at 185 and he hasn’t fought with us at 185 yet,” Coker said at a post-fight news conference. “He looked good tonight, very calm and very composed. He did a lot of damage and he looked really good. That’s something that’s going to have to be a decision that he’s going to make. To me, I feel like 205 is a good weight class.
“If you look at him, he looks in shape. He looks calm. He’s a beast. I think he looks good at 205. If he really wants to cut and make the weight, that’s going to be up to him. We’ll figure out with his management who was here today and they’ve already started talking in my ear about making the 185 run. If he’s serious about it, then we’d definitely consider it.”
Romero, 45, has won back-to-back fights in 2022 after a 2021 promotional debut loss against Phil Davis by unanimous decision.
As is the case with most of his post-fight news conferences, Coker was unwilling to commit to a declaration of Romero’s next matchup. It’s unclear if a title shot will be next or if he’ll face another contender first.
At middleweight, the current Bellator champion is undefeated American Top Team fighter Johnny Eblen (12-0 MMA, 8-0 BMMA), who weighed in on Romero’s win in a brief tweet Friday.
“Just another legend I can retire,” Eblen wrote. “Nothing to see here.”
Just another legend I can retire, nothing to see here #Bellator285
— 𝕋𝕙𝕖ℍ𝕦𝕞𝕒𝕟ℂ𝕙𝕖𝕒𝕥ℂ𝕠𝕕𝕖 (@JohnnyEblen) September 23, 2022
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