It appears that top middleweight contender Yoel Romero won’t be able to compete at UFC 230 as originally planned.
The promotion recently announced that Romero would square off against Paulo Henrique Costa at Madison Square Garden in New York on Nov. 3. However, “The Soldier of God” told ESPN on Mondy that date simply won’t work due to a broken orbital bone he suffered in a loss to Robert Whittaker at UFC 225 on June 9.
"Maybe four or five months," Romero said. "The doctor said, 'Yoel needs more time.' You know me. If you give me somebody, I take it. But you need to be smart. When the doctor says, 'You're ready,' you can go. I'm waiting.”
That timeframe would have Romero ready either at the end of this year or by early 2019. Romero lost a split decision to Whittaker in a five-round bout at UFC 225. The contest was a non-title bout after the Cuban wrestler failed to make weight. While UFC President Dana White said that he would encourage Romero to move up a division after the event, the American Top Team representative seems intent on remaining at 185 pounds.
"I talked with the UFC and said I'm not going to go up," Romero said. "Maybe in the future. People need to see the belt on my body. When I take the belt, maybe I'll go up and fight a superfight [against another champion].”
Romero told ESPN that he recently signed an eight-fight contract with the UFC. He is 9-2 with the Las Vegas-based promotion, with his only two defeats coming at the hands of Whittaker. He is open to fighting Costa down the road — just not at UFC 230. The UFC has not made an official announcement regarding the status of the bout.
"My eye is not ready," Romero said. "I want to fight, but it is what it is. The doctor said, 'Yoel cannot fight.' I want to fight on this card, this show. Anytime you have an opportunity to fight at Madison Square Garden in New York, you're making history. But I need to wait.”