With news of Robert Whittaker’s knee injury being aggravated in his win over Yoel Romero at UFC 213, furthering his return to the octagon, there is a possibility that Michael Bisping will end up fighting somebody else instead. The bad blood between Bisping and Yoel Romero grew from amusing to intense. So much so that there could be a chance the UFC books a fight between the two since it’s slowly growing more and more in demand.
The rivalry between two men who are seemingly polar opposites began organically as Romero was making a case for a title shot while Bisping managed to take the title from Luke Rockhold at UFC 199. Romero was flagged by USADA after he tested positive for a banned substance in February of last year, two months after defeating Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza at UFC 194. The news of the violation was treated as an inevitable revelation given Romero’s physique. Romero’s multiple instances of having his team buy more time in between rounds didn’t do much to help his case. In fact, Romero was quite the controversial figure prior to his run in with USADA. It dates back to October of 2015 during his post fight interview after a TKO win over Lyoto Machida. It sounded like Romero cried out, “Go for Jesus, no gay Jesus.” He did make an attempt to clear things up following the buzz he created by claiming he actually said, “No forget Jesus.”
The speech occurred a day after the U.S. Supreme Court passed legislation on same sex marriage and Romero has proudly demonstrated his devotion to Christianity, which also worsened his case. Fortunately for Romero, he was able to secure a six month suspension when it was his failed drug test was proved to be due to a tainted supplement last April. Funny enough, Bisping managed to change the narrative as he conveyed his preference of giving Georges St Pierre a title shot over Romero. Fans know viewed Romero as a sympathetic figure who was being shortchanged. Bisping, always possessing the gift of being despised by fans and opponents, was and still is one of the most hated champions in UFC history.
Fans and the media got behind Romero and the argument that he was deserving of a title shot upon serving his suspension. The argument that “Jacare” should’ve gotten the nod over Romero was long forgotten. There was no call for a rematch to clear things up. Everybody seemed to be in agreement that Romero was the clear cut #1 contender for Bisping’s title.
Fans grew even more responsive to Romero leading up to his showdown against Robert Whittaker. His impressive physique was marveled at rather than questioned. His translator has gained support for his ability to accurately translate the “Soldier of God.” Even after Romero’s attempt to secure his bout against Bisping fell short, fans still appear to want to see Romero get his hands on “The Count.”
Bisping only added flames to the fire when he was shown on the big screen at UFC 213 ripping up a small Cuba flag and throwing it towards Romero’s corner in between rounds. Romero’s response hasn’t exactly been supported as he posted videos of him burning a photo of Bisping with the Union Jack flag and having his fans stepping on the flag during his trip to Cuba.
Whether fans agree with Romero or Bisping or neither, the crucial part is that they are paying attention and appear intrigued. Far more intrigued in the ongoing beef than Bisping’s attempts to trash talk Robert Whittaker after the fight. Before Bisping’s verbal jarring against Whittaker inside the cage, it appeared that he was on the verge of getting into a confrontation with Romero after the two were briefly separated.
Even in defeat, Romero has managed to increase the interest in a fight against Bisping. Whether the UFC goes through with the match up is yet to be seen. There is always the potential of GSP re-entering talks to challenge the Brit for his title, but it’s fair to say that fans prefer Romero if Whittaker is unable to get healthy in time to unify both titles.