With top middleweight contender Paulo Costa injured, the expectation has been that Yoel Romero will get the call to fight reigning UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya next.
UFC President Dana White says not so fast.
While he is interested in a fight between Adesanya and Romero, he wants Romero to win a fight first. The Cuban, to remind, is riding a pair of decision losses to Costa and Robert Whittaker.
White says he intends to book Romero in another fight, then have the winner of that fight challenge Adesanya while Costa continues to heal up.
“Costa tore his bicep so he had to have surgery,” White told Adam’s Apple (via MMA Fighting). “He’s claiming that he will be back sooner than he will be. That’s not what the doctor is telling me, so that’s not true.”
“[Adesanya] wants to fight Yoel Romero,” the UFC boss added. “He wants Romero. So we’re talking about giving Romero a fight coming up soon here and then [Adesanya] will fight the winner of that fight.”
It’s not clear who White plans to match Romero up with, but the options are seemingly plentiful. If White intends to book Romero in a number-one contender fight, matchups with Jared Cannonier and new middleweight contender Darren Till would seem to be the most logical choices. That being said, a showdown between Romero and Gastelum could also make sense.
Israel Adesanya captured the middleweight title in October, when he knocked out the former champion Robert Whittaker in the second round. Romero battled Whittaker twice, once for the interim title, and once in a non-title bout (due to a weight-cut blunder), losing both times by hard-fought decision.
Who do you think will be next for the new middleweight king? Yoel Romero, or somebody else?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 11/5/2019.