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Yoel Romero explains why he didn’t keep kicking Robert Whittaker’s injured leg

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Yoel Romero came close to obtaining UFC gold, but not close enough.

The Cuban fighter faced Robert Whittaker for the UFC interim middleweight title in the main event of Saturday’s UFC 213, which took place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. It was a very competitive fight where Romero took an early lead, winning the first two rounds, and then Whittaker came back to win the final three. The bout was close and you could make the case that Romero could’ve walked away with the belt had he made small adjustments that could have improved his performance.

One of those possible adjustments could’ve been the usage of more leg kicks, as Romero had found plenty of success with them early in the fight, injuring Whittaker’s left leg. “The Soldier of God” was well aware his kicks were doing damage.

“[I noticed it] after every time I would try to do the same side kick to the leg, he would change it,” Romero said at the UFC 213 post-fight conference.

Yet, despite the success with the leg kicks, Romero stopped utilizing them after round two, and that’s when he began to lose the fight. Romero said that it wasn’t that he had abandoned the leg kicks, but that it was Whittaker who wasn’t allowing him to use them.

“Yes, of course [I tried to use leg kicks], but he didn’t give me the opportunity,” Romero explained. “When I would try to do the same side kick to the leg, he would switch his leg, and I was running the risk of remaining in his [striking] guard, within reach of his hands.”

Being 40 years old and having suffered a loss in a crucial fight, one may wonder what the next move would be for the Olympic wrestler. Romero still plans on pushing forward and making a second round for the middleweight title.

“I’m fine, I’m ready. I have a pain in my left leg so let’s hope it’s nothing serious, but we’re still in the battle,” Romero said. “The game is not over, we have a second part. It’s to be continued.”

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