Cuban Olympic Wrestling Silver Medalist Yoel Romero is widely considered one of the greatest Wrestlers to ever compete on the world level. This weekend in Australia, Yoel will take on Luke Rockhold for the UFC Interim Middleweight belt. Check out this segment from the countdown show that gives some insight into his beast mode training regimen.
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Romero competed in both the 2000 Summer Olympics and the 2004 Summer Olympics, representing his home nation of Cuba. He won the silver medal in the 2000 freestyle competition, losing to Adam Saitiev in the finals. He finished in fourth place in 2004. While competing in freestyle wrestling, Romero has defeated three different Olympic gold medal winners, and five different world champions. Among them were Americans Cael Sanderson and Les Gutches, both of whom Romero has multiple victories over.
He also represented Cuba at the senior level in the FILA Wrestling World Championships, which is held in non-Olympic years, from 1997–2005. At the 1999 World Wrestling Championships Romero became world champ by defeating the 1996 Olympic gold medalist, Khadzhimurad Magomedov of Russia. He controversially missed out on becoming world champion again in 2002. After landing a three-point throw against Adam Saitiev to take a 3–2 lead, Romero was penalized a point for passivity with 20 seconds remaining. In overtime, after a scramble which saw Romero end on top, it was judged Saitiev had scored in the interim.
Romero medaled in five total world championships, only missing out with his fifth-place finish in 1997, and 6th-place finish in 2003 – a time where he was battling injuries. Other notable achievements include a gold medal at the 2003 Pan American Games, a quadrennial competition held the year before the Olympics, as well as multiple medal-winning finishes at the FILA Wrestling World Cup. Romero competed sparingly after 2005 – he was suspended for all of 2006 by the Cuban Wrestling Federation for allegedly throwing his match against Mindorashvili at the 2005 World Championships. After winning the Grand Prix of Germany in the summer of 2007, he would not return to Cuba, instead staying in Germany. Romero then joined the Ringer-Bundesliga, a professional wrestling league in Germany, where teams compete for team titles. Romero helped coach and train, as well as started for SV Johannis Nuremberg. Eventually he began to transition into MMA.
After defecting in 2007 to Germany, Romero made his professional mixed martial arts debut in December 2009. In the time of 2008–2011 Romero had been trained by Sergej Kuftin (combat sambo & MMA coach) and Zike Simic (kickboxing coach), both – from Peter Althof’s “Martial Arts Gym Nuremberg”. Over the next 3 years, he amassed an undefeated record of 5–0 in various promotions throughout Germany and Poland. He won his debut via TKO against Sascha Weinpolter. In his second bout he scored a 62-second finish via TKO against Ricky Pulu. He then took on Polish standout Michał Fijałka in his third bout. After a dominant performance, Yoel won in the third round via TKO, which was at first ruled a controversial disqualification, due to a knee on the ground thrown by Romero. In 2011, he won his next three fights via TKO in the first round.