Yoel Romero: The Mutant Hero We Deserve

I’m pretty sure that Yoel “Soldier of God” Romero is not really an infantryman appointed by the Lord himself, but I can’t say I’d be all that surprised if it turned out he was. The Olympian wouldn’t look out of place on Olympus, leering over his mythical sires; he already looks as though he has been chiselled from marble.

Romero made his MMA debut on December 20, 2009, winning via first-round TKO, but it seems like most of his career has occurred over the last few months. Not that he had entirely evaded headlines before that, though. The #StoolGate controversy was a well-documented fiasco at UFC 178 that saw Romero, badly hurt at the end of the second round, take an extra 30 seconds on his stool. Many people (including the crowd, his opponent, Tim Kennedy, who Romero knocked out in the next round, and UFC President Dana White) considered this to be a dirty trick; a fighter cheating by snatching an additional half-minute of recovery time. And that could very well be true. But Romero was also smothered in Vaseline by the UFC’s officially-appointed cornerman, which referee “Big” John McCarthy instructed Romero’s corner team to remove – a slippery logistical error made slipperier by McCarthy’s instructions being delivered in English, to people who don’t speak or understand English. (As far as unintentionally funny officiating goes, that’s right up there with Steve Mazzagatti asking deaf light-heavyweight Matt Hamill if he was able to continue, and then waving the fight off when he didn’t answer.)

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