The most anticipated first-round matchup of the eight-man Bellator MMA Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix is no more after Yoel Romero was pulled from his May 7 promotional debut against fellow newcomer Anthony “Rumble” Johnson.
The 43-year-old Romero (13-5), a former two-time UFC middleweight title challenger, did not clear pre-fight medical testing and was forced to withdraw from the tournament, Bellator officials confirmed Thursday to CBS Sports (Bellator and CBS Sports are both owned by ViacomCBS). The nature of Romero’s issue was not disclosed. The promotion said it will name a tournament alternate to face Johnson (22-6) in his quarterfinal bout as soon as possible, although it remains uncertain whether that fight will remain on the card that is just eight days away.
Bellator 258 will go on as scheduled from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut (Showtime, 9 p.m. ET) and is headlined by bantamweight champion Juan Archuleta against Sergio Pettis. Johnson, himself a former two-time UFC light heavyweight title challenger, was originally scheduled for the co-main event with the winner set to advance to the semifinals against reigning 205-pound champion Vadim Nemkov.