Bellator Signs 'Rumble' Johnson and Yoel Romero, Bolster 205lbs Division

Giancarlo Aulino
BarnBurner Sports Writer


Saturday, December 19, 2020

Bellator MMA will be getting a big boost to their roster in 2021 as the promotion has added two of the sport’s most feared fighters to their light-heavyweight division, which looks to be living up to Bellator President, Scott Coker’s billing as the best 205lb division in MMA.

This past week, Bellator signed former UFC title contender Anthony “Rumble” Johnson and yesterday, it was reported that another title contender, Yoel Romero, had signed with the promotion and will be moving up from middleweight – 185lbs – to light-heavyweight – 205lbs.

These are two big signings as Johnson, 36, had been one of the sport’s most powerful strikers and knockout artists since moving to light-heavyweight, which was a much more suitable weight-class, and Romero, 43, has proven that even in defeat, is still one of the top middleweights in the world.

For years, Johnson had done drastic weight cuts to make 170lbs in an attempt to rise up the ranks and earn a title shot against then-UFC Welterweight Champion Georges Saint-Pierre. but after missing weight on a few occasions, he decided it was best to compete at 205lbs.

The decision to hone his craft at 205lbs was the best decision for Johnson as he began earning the reputation of being among the best in the world with his knockout finishes of a who’s who in the UFC light-heavyweight division including Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Alexander Gustafsson, Jimi Manuwa, Glover Teixeira, and current Bellator Heavyweight Champion Ryan Bader. Johnson’s only losses at light-heavyweight were in title fights to then-UFC Light-Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier.

The fight that got away from the UFC was Johnson vs. Jon Jones, which did come to fruition during his UFC tenure because Jones’ troubles outside the octagon led to him being stripped of the UFC Light-Heavyweight Championship.

Johnson signing with Bellator came as a bit of a surprise because it was reported that he had entered the USADA drug-testing pool earlier in the year, which signified that a return could be imminent but that was not the case.

While speaking to reporters following the UFC 256 weigh-ins, UFC President Dana White responded to the news of Johnson signing with Bellator and said that it was for the best:

“I have a great relationship with him, I’ve always liked him…never had any problems with him other than some weight-cutting issues back at 170. He’s a great guy, we love him…we’d love to have him here, but it’s probably better for him to go somewhere else.”

In terms of potential opponents for their debuts, fans should not be surprised if it is against each other. As soon as the Romero signing was made official, fans had clamored on social media for Bellator to book a fight between Romero and Johnson.

At the time, it did not seem likely that the promotion would set that up right away since they would probably want them to fight another opponent first but when speaking with ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, Romero mentioned that there is a “ninety percent chance” that he fights Johnson in his debut.

With these two big additions to Bellator, the light-heavyweight division will definitely be one fans will want to keep an eye on in 2021.



Photo Credit: UFC