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Exclusive: Olympic wrestler turned MMA fighter Yoel Romero Palacio on his success and coming to America

Yoel Romero Palacio won the silver medal in the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. Now days the Cuban wrestler has turned his focus to MMA. In the photo above Palacio is seen droppin them B's on Michal Fijalka at IFF in Poland in Dec. 2010.

It’s been nearly 11 years since Yoel Romero Palacio (3-0) won a silver medal in wrestling at the 2000 Summer Olympics, and while he has seen his wrestling career ebb in the years since, Palacio’s desire to compete certainly has not.

That lingering desire led Palacio to make the transition into MMA, and after winning all of his fights so far via TKO, Palacio is showing the world that he still has what it takes to be a world-class fighter.

“My brother [Yoel Pablo Hernandez] is a professional boxer so it was natural for me to move into MMA where I can apply my wrestling and boxing skills,” Palacio said. “MMA has grown tremendously and I wanted to be a part of that. It gave me the opportunity to compete at a high level again.”

Since making the transition from wrestling, Palacio has discovered just how challenging it is to compete in MMA.

“[MMA training is] different [from wrestling] in the sense that I have to practice more disciplines on a regular basis instead of just one,” Palacio said. “A lot of MMA fighters rely on their base and gravitate towards that. I don’t want to rely on my wrestling. I want to prove that I’m the best MMA stand up fighter, the best MMA wrestler, [and] the best MMA Jiu-Jitsu fighter.”

Even though he has been boxing since he was a child in Cuba, Palacio has another advantage when it comes to improving his stand up game; his younger brother Yoel Pablo Hernandez, who is the WBA Cruiserweight Interim World Champion.

“What can I say, when you have a world champion boxer in your corner, it doesn’t hurt,” Palacio said. “He’s a great competitor and has made a great name for himself in boxing, but at the end of the day he’s my younger brother so I have to teach him a thing or two.” (laughs)

After competing overseas in his first three fights, Palacio now has his sights set on coming to the United States to fight the best in the world.

“My management team, ML Management and I are talking with several organizations that are interested, but we haven’t committed to anything yet,” Palacio said. “Of course I want to fight for the best, and that’s the UFC.”

In his push to become a better fighter, Palacio said that he is not taking any time off following his last win.

“I would fight every week if they would let me,” Palacio said. “Right now I’m just waiting for my Visa to get processed so I can start working in the U.S. and in the meantime I’m just training really hard to keep improving my game.”

So who does Palacio, who has been competing at light heavyweight, want to square off against when he eventually fights here in America?

“Whoever is ranked number one in that weight class at the time,” Palacio said. “I don’t care who it is.”

Palacio’s message to both fans and fighters; “Watch out, because I’m coming . . .”

Yoel Romero Palacio wanted to thank his family, his management team, ML Management, Ray Gonzalez and Tina Vidal, and all of his trainers and coaches.

  • Pawel Sawicki

    He has fought in Poland. He is wild animal and one of the best wrestler I’ve ever seen but he has over 30 years old.

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