Single-minded Romero is all business

Yoel Romero has a single-minded focus on beating Luke Rockhold in UFC 221.
Yoel Romero has a single-minded focus on beating Luke Rockhold in UFC 221.

UFC: Yoel Romero has to learn from his defeats, simply because there aren't that many of them.

The Cuban colossus has just one loss in his UFC career, to Australia's own Robert Whittaker, and victory over Luke Rockhold in the main event of UFC 221 in Perth on Sunday will give him a chance at vengeance.

The circumstances are not ideal: Romero has had less than a month to prepare after he was called up to replace an injured Whittaker against former champion Rockhold.

As a result, the normally loquacious Cuban has been brusque and to the point.

Accelerating his training program and a more extreme weight cut means there is time for nothing but business.

In the past, Romero has opined on the power of the Holy Trinity in helping him finish fights in the third round and how time belongs to no man, not even UFC boss Dana White

This time there is no poetic flourish, only a single-minded obsession with winning UFC gold and earning a rematch with Whittaker. Nothing else matters.

"I have 32 years (of) fighting professionally. I was a wrestling champion. I understand that once you lose, it only propels you further," Romero said.

There is simply no time to be flamboyant, not with Rockhold's spectre fast approaching on the horizon.

 Yoel Romero fights Australian Robert Whittaker.
Yoel Romero fights Australian Robert Whittaker.

The American has done his best to unsettle Romero with plenty of pre-fight sledging, but there is no time for Romero to pay attention.

"It's just an opinion. Rockhold is entitled to have any kind of opinion he wants," Romero said.

This single-minded focus is part of what made Romero an Olympic silver-medallist, a UFC title contender at 40 and one of the greatest athletes the sport has seen, although if you ask him he'll tell you it all comes from God.

With an imposing ground game born in his years of wrestling for Cuba, Romero has also become a devastating and crafty striker, using his excellent command of distance to lure opponents in before exploding with strikes backed by brutal power.

Through a lifetime of training, Romero has turned himself into a wrecking machine best described as a man doing an impression of a boulder.

Yoel Romero’s opponent Luke Rockhold.
Yoel Romero’s opponent Luke Rockhold.

He has had to become mechanical in his focus to prepare for this fight - the only time there is a glimpse of the old Romero is when he details his recent return to Cuba.

Romero defected to Germany over a decade ago, and only returned to his home city of Pinar del Rio for the first time last year.

"It's a place where everyone is very happy, everyone is very generous, everyone appreciates life a lot.

 

"When I went there, they treated me as if I was a champion. They greeted me as a hometown hero."

If Romero can defeat Rockhold and claim the title from Whittaker, he has one final dream for his fighting career - a bout on home soil.

"I believe the Cuban people deserve it," Romero said.


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