While Yoel Romero initially feared the worst regarding his injured leg following his win over Luke Rockhold at UFC 221, it now appears that the Cuban will have a short recovery.
Romero did not appear at Saturday’s post-fight press conference because he was transported to the hospital. However, he did conduct a brief interview on Fox Sports 1, where he said he thought he broke his leg in the opening stanza after absorbing several hard leg kicks from his opponent.
“In the first round I took two kicks, and I’m pretty sure that broke my leg,” said Romero, who was unable to stand in the Octagon or during his FS1 interview after his third-round knockout of Rockhold in Perth, Australia.
Romero may have misjudged the severity of his injury. According to management representative Abe Kawa, Romero will be “good to go” in a “couple weeks.”
With @YoelRomeroMMA in the hospital. Leg is fine people couple weeks and he will be good to go— Ibrahim Kawa (@Abraham_kawa) February 11, 2018
“The Soldier of God” adopted a measured pace against Rockhold, and after two competitive rounds, he found the opening he needed in the third stanza. Romero floored his foe with a left hand and sealed the victory with a massive standing-to-ground uppercut 1:48 into the period.
“I felt really good. We trained really hard for this fight. We trained very good for this fight. We had six, seven-round sparring,” Romero said. “I had no worries whatsoever in terms of cardio. If we would have a small amount of changes we would have a better result.”
Romero, of course, is referring to his weight cut. The American Top Team product accepted the bout on short notice when reigning champion Robert Whittaker was forced to withdraw from UFC 221. Romero missed weight by 2.7 pounds on Friday and as a result, was ineligible to win the interim middleweight crown. Romero was originally scheduled to face David Branch at UFC on Fox 28 in Orlando, Fla., on Feb. 24 before he accepted the fight against Rockhold.
“I’m not necessarily sure exactly what went wrong,” Romero said. “We worked the same as we do every week. We had a week plan laid out and we got a call from the UFC and we knew there was going to be a little bit of a problem, but we didn’t think there was actually going to be a problem come weight day. After they gave me the one hour, I came in only two pounds overweight but do you seriously think if I would have been fighting in Orlando I would have had this issue?”
A violent knockout victory seems to have a way of making people forgive such transgressions. UFC President Dana White told ESPN.com’s Brett Okamoto that Romero is still expected to receive the next 185-pound title shot against Whittaker down the road. Whittaker defeated Romero via unanimous decision at UFC 213 last July to claim what was then the interim belt. “The Reaper” was elevated to undisputed champion when Georges St. Pierre recently vacated the title after defeating Michael Bisping at UFC 217.
Asked Dana White if plan is to have Yoel Romero fight Robert Whittaker next, despite the fact he didn't win an interim title tonight.— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) February 11, 2018
With a normal camp, Romero expects there will be no issues on the scale.
“I had to work really fast to get all this done for this fight,” he said. “It messed up my plans for the weight cut a little bit.”