At 40 years of age, former Olympic wrestler and top UFC middleweight Yoel “Soldier of God” Romero has proven once again that age is nothing but a number. Although he didn’t win the interim UFC middleweight title because he missed weight, Romero did just what he had to do to set up a rematch with the reigning champion, Robert Whittaker.
Romero, formerly of Cuba who now hails from Miami, Florida, took care of business against former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold, defeating the American via third-round knockout by way of devastating left hook. For three whole rounds, Romero and Rockhold blasted each other with their best strikes, with neither fighter looking to take the fight to the ground.
The two locked horns in the main event of UFC 221, which took place Saturday, 10 February at the Perth Arena in Western Australia.
It was an action-packed contest that kept fans on the edge of their seats all throughout. After Rockhold took control of the first round, edging his Cuban opponent just slightly with cleaner, more frequent strikes, Romero came alive in the second, landing powerful punches in bunches in a series of rapid flurries.
Although Rockhold was patient and methodical, Romero’s unbridled power shone through in the third round. As Romero began to put the pressure on Rockhold at the center of the cage, the American started to fade. The end sequence came as Romero pushed the pace against Rockhold and landed a wicked left up top that dropped Rockhold in a daze. A final left hand landed for good measure, knocking Rockhold out cold as referee Marc Goddard stepped in to wave off the contest. The official finish came at 1:48 of round three, with Romero declared winner via scintillating knockout.
It was a fantastic showcase of strength and skill for the Cuban veteran, who has been in the fight game for over two decades. Although Romero was seven years Rockhold’s elder, he made sure that the age difference had no impact whatsoever.
While youth is certainly a great thing to have, Romero shows everyone that martial arts chooses neither the young or the old, but welcomes all. It’s never too late to begin training in martial arts, no matter your purpose is.
As long as you keep focused and determined to achieve your goals and take the many teachings of martial arts to heart, nothing is impossible. Today, Evolve Daily shares three ways Yoel Romero continues to prove that age is nothing but a number.
40 years old and still dominant
Yes, he’s 40 years old, but that has not stopped Romero from achieving. He entered the UFC at the age of 35 and has blazed a trail of destruction since, leaving a trail of big names in his wake.
Before losing to Whittaker in July of last year, Romero rode an eight-fight win streak which included names such as Derek Brunson, Brad Tavares, Tim Kennedy, Lyoto Machida, Jacare Souza, and Chris Weidman. Now, Romero is a winner of nine of his last 10 bouts, with the knockout of Rockhold being the 11th in his career.
Though Romero began his UFC career at a time when most fighters are already contemplating retirement, the Cuban warrior has continued to defy odds and logic, turning in performance after spectacular performance.
If there was ever any doubt that Yoel Romero belongs in the upper echelon of UFC middleweights, there certainly isn’t any now. And a showdown with Whittaker when he’s available will be one of the biggest and most epic rematches in UFC history.
Two decades of excellence
For over 20 years, Yoel Romero has embraced martial arts and built his life’s work on extreme dedication to his craft.
Beginning as an Olympic wrestler, Romero competed in both the 2000 and 2004 Summer Olympics, representing his native Cuba. He bagged a silver medal in the 2000 freestyle wrestling competition and nabbed fourth place in 2004. Although he never won a gold medal, Romero has defeated three different Olympic gold medal winners in freestyle competition, among whom were Americans Cael Sanderson and Les Gutches, and Russian Khadzhimurad Magomedov.
Romero began transitioning to mixed martial arts following his amateur wrestling career, making his debut in December 2009. He joined the UFC in 2013, making his entrance with an emphatic flying knee first-round knockout of Clifford Starks. He is now one of the biggest names at middleweight, right behind division champion Robert Whittaker.
What Romero has accomplished over the course of his martial arts career is nothing short of extraordinary, and he never let something like age ever stop him. His demolition job of Rockhold last Saturday night was simply breathtaking and looks as good as he’s ever been.
Continuously learning new things
Although Romero began his career as a wrestler with a world-class wrestling pedigree, he has evolved into a tremendous striker, 11 out of 13 career victories by knockout is all the proof you need to know that Romero is dangerous in any position inside the Octagon.
Romero has recently made a name for himself as “Mr. Third Round” because nearly all of his vicious finishes inside the Octagon since joining the UFC has come in the third round. Although he possesses incredible knockout power, Romero is a seasoned veteran and does not rush into firefights early.
He likes to bide his time and pick apart his opponents until an opening presents itself. And when the knockout opportunity comes, Romero capitalizes. His style is both immensely polished and methodical, as much as it is overwhelming. The ability to continuously learn and grow as a martial artist has been Romero’s key to success.
Despite his advanced age, Romero has shown that learning and constantly developing your skills is the most important part of being a martial artist. He works tirelessly every day in camp to make sure both his stand-up and ground game are on point, which allows him to keep up with the younger talent of today.