It’s no secret that multi-time UFC middleweight title challenger Yoel Romero is a physical freak of nature, but on a recent episode of the Joe Rogan Experience, the promotion’s chief color commentator and the podcast’s namesake went as far as to say that Romero’s super-human status has been medically confirmed.
Speaking with fellow comedian Tom Segura on the podcast’s 1,447th episode on Wednesday, Rogan brought up a story about the 43-year-old Cuban Olympic wrestling standout after he and Segura briefly discussed the blockbuster Netflix documentary Icarus, which revealed a massive doping scandal involving Russian Olympians.
“Well, did you hear me talking about Yoel Romero?” Rogan began. “[UFC President] Dana White gave me this information.”
According to Rogan, the UFC brought Romero to an optometrist following one of his recent bouts with the promotion to have his orbital area examined.
“They brought in Yoel Romero because he had a fractured orbital in one of his fights,” said Rogan, “and, they bring him in, and he gets examined by this doctor, and the doctor calls the UFC up afterwards (sic) and says, ‘Where did you get this guy?'”
To which individuals within the UFC, Rogan says, responded, “‘What do you mean?'”
“‘I’ve never seen anyone like him,'” the doctor reportedly retorted. “‘Oh, yeah, he’s an amazing athlete,'” replied the UFC officials.
“‘No, no, no. I’ve never seen a human being like this,'” Rogan says the doctor revealed. “‘This is the most unusual human being I’ve ever seen in my 40 years of practicing medicine.'”
Rogan said, “[The doctor] said [Romero’s] tendons in his eyes are four times larger than a normal person’s. He goes, ‘His physical structure is different than any human being I’ve ever seen in my life.'”
Rogan and a stunned Segura shared a “Woah,” and Rogan continued.
“Cuba. Who knows what kind of wacky experiments they were doing,” Rogan said, purportedly of the Cuban government and its sporting teams.
“Russian pills when he was a kid, that’s for sure,” said Segura.
“Yeah, imagine, right? Imagine,” agreed Rogan. “I mean, he was a top-of-the-food-chain wrestler. He medalled in, literally, every single international wrestling meet he ever competed in. Yoel Romero is a super stud; just a super stud” Rogan concluded.
The pair then briefly discussed Romero’s most recent outing, a lackluster title loss to undefeated UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya.
“That was a weird fight, though, right? The last one with Izzy?” asked Segura.
“Yes, yes. It wasn’t a good fight,” Rogan replied.
Romero (13-5) has competed in the UFC since his debut with the promotion in 2013 following a one-fight stint in the now-defunct Strikeforce FC.
In April of 2016, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), the anti-doping partner of the UFC, announced that Romero had tested positive for the banned substance Ibutamoren – a growth hormone secretagogue – following and out-of-competition test in December of 2015.
Romero provided USADA with access to the supplements he was taking at the time, one of which contained Ibutamoren despite not listing the banned substance on its label. As USADA wrote in their statement on Romero’s case, the “presence of an undisclosed prohibited substance in a product is regarded as contamination.”
As a result, Romero was found to have unknowingly ingested the supplement, received a “reduced sanction,” and did not suffer the disqualification of his “competitive results” from December 12’s UFC 194 – the event preceding the test – where he had earned a split-decision victory over Ronaldo “Jacaré” Souza.
Romero sued the supplement-maker responsible for the contaminated supplement, triumphing in court in May of 2019.
The judgment in the case was for Romero to be paid a whopping $27.45 million ($3 million for lost wages, reputable harm, and emotional damages, respectively, all of which were tripled due to New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act) from the supplement-maker, Gold Star Performance Products.
Following the verdict, Romero told ESPN, “I’m very happy… It’s not about the money. I’m very happy now that everything is clean and more clear. You cannot live very well when you hear and you see when you post something [on social media] people reply ‘Soldier of Steroids.’ You cannot sleep very well. … It’s very emotional and important, too, because I know I’ve never taken anything in my life.”
His manager, Abe Kawa, told ESPN, “I’m absolutely happy, even if zero dollars are collected, that the world knows this man was not a cheater.”
Michael Fiedel is The Body Lock's deputy editor, a staff writer for FloCombat, and a Russell-Rice scholarship recipient at Vanderbilt University.