Yoel Romero has long been regarded as one of MMA's timeless wonders. When defending his title against Romero in the Bellator 297 main event on Friday, light heavyweight champion Vadim Nemkov tried to play the part of Father Time. Romero once more showed he still has some gas left in the tank with some late drama, while Nemkov made a broad choice following primarily one-sided traffic.
While consistently splitting Romero's high and tight defensive guard, Nemkov quickly established his supremacy on the floor. Romero struggled to get his shots off as Nemkov fired off quick combinations that repeatedly snapped the opponent's head back.
Romero, 46, was aiming to break two records: he wanted to win his first world championship and become the oldest fighter to ever do so in a significant mixed martial arts event.
Romero quickly realised that setting new records would be difficult because he was unable to match the younger champion's speed.
Romero began acting pathetically injured in the latter stages of the match, attracting laughter from the audience even as he continued to take hard shots from Nemkov. In the fourth round, Romero managed to nearly catch Nemkov with a strong counter while pretending to be injured.
After four rounds of one-way traffic in Nemkov's favour, Romero somehow managed to make the fifth and final round intriguing.
Nemkov started attempting takedowns while firing in and grabbing Romero's legs. Romero was able to clinch up as a result, take the fight to the ground, and beat Nemkov over the course of the last minute of the round.
Romero's effort was too little, too late, as Nemkov won 49-46 on all official judge scorecards to move to 9-0 in Bellator and extend his record for the most successful light heavyweight championship defences to four.