Yoel Romero figures to be among the most disliked men in Madison Square Garden at UFC 205 on Saturday, but he won’t let that get to him.
The No. 4-ranked middleweight is set to face Chris Weidman, the face of mixed martial arts in New York over the last several years. Romero expects the crowd to be against him on Saturday, but doesn’t believe that will add any pressure.
“On the contrary, I feel blessed,” Romero said through a translator. “To be part of something that another athlete has always wanted, to be part of that is special.”
Weidman served as a spokesman of sorts for the UFC and mixed martial arts throughout the long legalization battle in the state. He hasn’t fought on the East Coast since his pre-UFC days, and he’s ready to give his local fans a show.
“To finally be back after all the years of fighting in Las Vegas and all these big fights I’ve had, it’s a dream come true to be able to do this in front of all my fans in New York,” Weidman said.
Romero, who uses “Soldier of God” as his fighting nickname, isn’t trying to ruin anything for Weidman’s first fight in his home state, but the former Olympic wrestler from Cuba said he’s happy God has put him in a position to be successful and that he intends to take advantage of that chance.
Romero is currently riding a seven-fight win streak dating to his UFC debut in 2013. He’s picked up wins over a few marquee opponents, including former light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida, as well as top contenders Jacare Souza and Tim Kennedy.
The winner of this bout likely will be in the mix for a shot at middleweight champion Michael Bisping in the near future. While Weidman has been vocal about his displeasure with the division and his desire to reclaim the title, Romero is letting things play out as they will.
“The way that I see it is in a spiritual way,” Romero said. “The one who is moving all of the pawns is God.”