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Yoel Romero opts against surgery, wants 'Jacare' Souza in the summer

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Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

UFC middleweight contender Yoel Romero has opted against undergoing surgery to repair the torn right meniscus that led to his last-second dropout at UFC on FOX 15, MMAFighting.com's Ariel Helwani reported Wednesday on UFC Tonight.

The decision was reached in order to avoid a lengthy rehabilitation layoff for the 37-year-old fighter, according to Romero's manager Andy Mendez. Instead, Romero is eyeing a two- to three-month turnaround with the hopes of fighting in the summer, specifically in either June or early July.

Romero (9-1) suffered the injury in training less than two weeks out from his UFC on FOX 15 fight against former Strikeforce champion Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza, which was to take place on April 18 in Newark, N.J. The setback marked the second time that a fight between the two middleweight contenders failed to come to fruition.

Romero was initially slated to face Souza on Feb. 28 at UFC 184, however Souza withdrew a month before the fight due to pneumonia. That bout was then rescheduled for UFC on FOX 15, but it instead fell apart all over again, striking a major blow to not only Romero's middleweight title hopes, but also Souza's.

With precious time to find a replacement opponent, the once-No. 1 ranked Souza ended up fighting unheralded and unsigned Chris Camozzi in a rematch of a lopsided 2013 contest which saw Souza put Camozzi to sleep in less than four minutes. Souza did himself one better in the rematch, submitting Camozzi in less than three minutes. The performance was in vain though, as Souza's win was ultimately overshadowed by Luke Rockhold's brilliant destruction of Lyoto Machida in UFC on FOX 15's main event.

While UFC President Dana White was noncommittal regarding the next title challenger for the winner of Chris Weidman vs. Vitor Belfort, Rockhold's victory propelled the American into the No. 1 contender position on the UFC's official rankings, and momentum seems to be in Rockhold's favor.

That's fine with Romero though, because the dangerous Olympic silver medalist still believes he has unfinished business with Souza, and he wouldn't mind meeting the Brazilian in the summer.

"Yoel doesn't like to call people out," Mendez said. "But yes he would like to be rebooked with (Jacare)."