clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Jon Anik didn't know Yoel Romero said anything controversial until after interview

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Jon Anik didn't know Yoel Romero had said something potentially divisive Saturday night until a few minutes after their post-fight interview.

When Anik left the cage, he ran into UFC matchmaker Joe Silva, who told him that UFC president Dana White "wasn't all that happy" with what Romero said.

"Then I started to think maybe he had said something super controversial," Anik told

What exactly Romero meant in a religious rant to Anik after his win over Lyoto Machida at UFC Fight Night 70 on Saturday night in Hollywood, Fla., is still open for debate. Romero, a Cuba native, spoke in English, his second language, and wasn't completely clear. His basic message seemed to be that the United States needs to go back to Jesus, and many believed he was making reference to Friday's Supreme Court decision that legalized same sex marriage.

In the post-fight press conference, Romero apologized and said he was misunderstood. The middleweight contender said he was talking about the American dream and, as a man of God, he loves all people.

"I will tell you guys something," Romero said. "God made man to be free. Anybody can do whatever they want. I wouldn't be the type of person to critique anybody. I have to look at myself first, and be a better person, to love people."

Anik said he didn't ask a follow-up question, because he wasn't sure what Romero was insinuating and was trying to steer the conversation away from religion and toward the third-round TKO finish of Machida.

"The last thing on my mind was that he might be taking a shot at that unprecedented ruling on gay marriage," Anik said. "He has been one of the more outwardly religious guys in the UFC. He makes Vitor Belfort sound like an atheist. So this has always been the book on Yoel Romero, so when he starts spouting about Jesus Christ and religion it's not that I tune him out, but my inner monologue is as soon as he's done I really need to get something out of the fight, because this was the biggest win of his career and we need to try to advance that story and potentially have him call out 'Jacare' or whatever was gonna happen next."

Even if he did hear Romero clearly and understand what he was saying, Anik doesn't think he would have pressed him on the remarks anyway. He doesn't feel like that's what his job would have been in the situation as someone who answers to UFC brass.

"I'm not sure the UFC would have wanted me to follow up," Anik said. "Ultimately, I'm trying to keep it about the fight and to keep it about advancing the fight story, not necessarily any other agenda. I don't think it would have been the time nor would it have been my place to start this conversation about gay marriage right there."

Anik still isn't quite sure what Romero meant when he seemed to take the United States to task after watching it several times. He, however, doesn't think Romero was being truthful when he said the comments were about "the American dream."

"I feel like anyone who says that they know 100 percent what he was saying is being a little bit disingenuous," Anik said. "I have watched the thing now several times and I'm not sure that I can make any clear statement as to what he was saying. I do believe what he said before the line in question -- 'What's happened to you, USA?' -- lends me to believe that obviously he had an issue with gay marriage, because I don't know that he would generalize about all of the United States not being religious and losing sight of Jesus Christ. I think in context when I go back and watch it, it seems to be that he was leading up to say something about Jesus' disapproval of this ruling.

"I think when he started talking about the American dream after at the post-fight press conference, clearly that was not what he was talking about inside the Octagon."

Anik's biggest takeaway, though? How unfortunate it is that everyone is talking about what Romero said now instead of what he did to Machida and its implications in the middleweight title picture.

"It's disappointing that he took the luster off the biggest win of his own career and chose not to propel himself forward with any sort of callout," Anik said. "And instead chose to either pump up Jesus Christ or cut down gay marriage. Whatever he was trying to do, it did not work out."

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Fighting Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Fighting