The rivalry between UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping and top contender Yoel Romero is far from over.
Despite losing the interim middleweight title fight against Robert Whittaker at UFC 213, which determined who was going to challenge Bisping for the real belt, Romero is still campaigning for a fight with the champ. However, the Cuban fighter’s interest in fighting Bisping is no longer about UFC gold, but about something far more meaningful to him.
During Romero’s title fight with Whittaker, Bisping was seen cageside ripping a Cuban flag and throwing it at Romero’s corner. The 40-year-old fighter added on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour that Bisping was also giving him the middle finger along with lobbing trash talk throughout his 25-minute title bout. Bisping’s antics and ripping of the Cuban flag only fueled the already existing beef with Romero, and the middleweight fighter has had enough.
“He doesn’t respect my flag, he doesn’t respect me, and that’s not good,” Romero told Ariel Helwani. “He needs to fight me. Belt or no belt, he needs to fight me. I told Dana White to give me this guy, I want this guy. I know I lost my chance to fight for the belt, but if Whittaker can’t fight due to injury, then I’d say, ‘Dana, give me the guy whether it’s belt or no belt. I need to fight him because he needs to respect me.”
Whittaker, who’s supposed to be the next challenger for Bisping, suffered an injury during his fight with Romero on his left knee. Last week, the Nevada Athletic Commission released the medical suspensions for the card and reported that Whittaker could potentially be out for six month, unless cleared by an orthopedic doctor.
The news gave Romero some hope of maybe getting his hands on Bisping. And that’s why Romero, despite being 11 years away from his family in Cuba, made his return trip to the Caribbean island a short one following UFC 213.
“Yeah, because I want to return to training because I hear that Whittaker is injured and I want to know what’s going to happen,” Romero explained. “I want to fight Bisping whether it’s for a belt or no belt because he doesn’t respect my country, my flag. Someone needs to close his mouth because he talks a lot and I never got payback. He needs to pay because this is not good. A fight is a fight, but you can’t talk shit about the country, about family because that’s a serious, serious thing.”
Yet, despite having strong feeling about disrespecting other countries, Romeo also disrespected Bisping’s British flag in response to what transpired in Las Vegas at UFC 213. When asked about his actions and his retaliation against Bisping, Romero’s response was a simple one.
“F*ck him, you know?” Romero said. “F*ck him, that’s it.”
The rivalry between Bisping and Romero seems to have reached a new level. It’s unknown if the bout will ever come to fruition, but it’s certain that the “Soldier of God” will do everything possible to make it happen, even if it means stalking the champ.
“Everywhere he stays, I go,” Romero said. “When he goes to the press conference for the Jonny ‘Bones’ Jones and Daniel Cormier fight, I go. When he goes to UFC on FOX, I go, too. Wherever he stays, I go. I want to see his face every time. I will be his nightmare.”