Yoel Romero has heard the questions about his cardio, and he’s learned to take them in stride.
After all, it’s his opponents who have typically found themselves in trouble when they head into deep waters with the Olympic silver medalist. Heading into a five-round interim middleweight title fight with Luke Rockhold in the main event of UFC 221 this Saturday in Perth, Australia, Romero was once again asked if he was concerned at all with criticism about his ability to compete for 25 minutes.
“People’s opinions, you’ve got to respect them,” Romero told Submission Radio. “If people think that I don’t have five-round cardio, ask Robert (Whittaker) how he felt when he was fighting me in the later rounds. He’s a very tough man, I applaud him, my hat off to him. He’s got a lot of talent, he’s the champion now for a reason.
“But look at my age. Look at my form. Do I have cardio or do I not have cardio? If I’m number one in the world, it’s for a reason. People can talk about the cardio all they want, but the results show it. So people behind me, they have to have really, really bad cardio also.”
Romero lost a hard-fought unanimous decision to Robert Whittaker last July at UFC 213 in another five-round interim title bout, but balks at the suggestion that it was his level of fitness that was his undoing. The 40-year-old’s recent successes might explain why he’s confident in that regard.
Before being outscored by Whittaker, Romero was 8-0 inside the Octagon with five of those wins coming by third-round TKO. If Romero is a one-round wonder, the results certainly don’t reflect that.
Still, the doubters remain, including the ever-confident Rockhold. Asked about whether he thought his opponent was overlooking him, Romero went to the scripture for a retort.
“First of all, the Philippians said that Goliath had to kill David because he was a great warrior and David was just an average bloke,” Romero said. “Who won that fight?”
If any clearer sign was needed that Romero isn’t worried about what people think of his conditioning or what Rockhold thinks of his chances on fight night, the “Soldier of God” looked extraordinarily relaxed as he engaged in an impromptu salsa class during the open workouts on Thursday.
Romero’s explanation for the moment was simple: “Because it’s a party and parties need dancing.”