Monday, February 19, 2018

The UFC 221 co-main event ended oddly, with the victorious new interim middleweight champion Yoel Romero pinning a concussed Luke Rockhold against the fence and kissing him while saying not kindly, “I love you.” Green officials from the Western Australia Combat Sports Commission looked uncomfortable but didn’t stop the harassment. Rockhold just looked concussed.

Romero appeared recently on Ariel Helwani’s The MMA Hour, and gave his backstory.

“He knows why. He knows why,” said Romero, as transcribed by Adam Guillen Jr. for MMA Mania. “Because he talked a lot of [trash]. After USADA, when that happened, when I had this problem with USADA, he talked [trash]. Before USADA, before, every time when he saw me, whether Vegas or when the UFC made something like theretreat, he’d say, ‘Hey, what’s up, my man? You want to go out with me? I need a party.’ I’d say, okay, come on, let’s go, no problem.”

“When I [was hanging out] with him, he was like a friend. He’d [put his arm around me] like this, ‘Yoel, what’s up?’ And every time, he asked me the big question. Every time, he asked me, ‘Hey Yoel, you want to fight with me?’ I’d say, ‘What?’ [He’d say,] ‘Yeah, so you want to fight?’ I’d say, ‘No, no, no. Wait, wait, wait, wait. That’s not the question. The question is, do you want to fight me?’ He’d say, ‘No, no, no. I don’t want to fight with you.’ So I’d say, ‘Okay, so you don’t want to fight me and I don’t want to fight you? That’s it.’”

Then Romero failed an anti-doping test due to a contaminated supplement, and Rockhold was highly critical. Romero felt betrayed.

“When I had the problem with USADA, he and Michael Bisping were the two guys, the first two guys, who were talking a lot of [trash] about me,” said Romero. “Okay, Bisping is Bisping. I don’t have a relationship, nothing relationship with this guy. But with [Rockhold]? Man, you talked like this about me? I said, okay. Because maybe he’s thinking, ‘Okay, this guy, 39 years old, the minimum [suspension] is two years out. 41. Right? Bye bye, Yoel.’

“But God is good every time, and I’m still here. And now, that’s why when the UFC called me, I said yes about the fight. That’s why I said at the weigh-in, when he said, ‘I am a professional,’ I said, ‘I am a professional too. I’m still here for you. I’m coming for you. Not for the belt. I stayed here for you, because this is a big opportunity — I can fight you. Everything is because you talked so bad about me. You need to pay. You need to pay.’ That’s it.”


“In this [kissing] moment, I said, ‘Hey, Luke. I love you, I love you. You remember the time when you were staying with me, hanging out, and you said, ‘Do you want to fight me?’ I said, ‘You remember? And you see what happened after USADA? You remember? I’m still here. I love you.’ He didn’t [say] anything, because he knows. He knows.”


Yoel Romero now fights division champion Robert Whittaker later this year. Rockhold may be moving up to 205.