Anthony Romero takes on Mike Breeden as part of this year’s Contender Series. This lightweight encounter goes Tuesday, August 25th at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Genius enters the cage against Breeden as a veteran of KOTC with a spotless 7-0 pro record. Romero has a 15 fight win streak dating back to his amateur days. Despite the huge momentum heading into this, Romero is aware of his opponent’s skillset and is preparing so there are few anomalous occurrences in the cage.
“I know he’s good everywhere. He’s at this level, where he wants to go to the UFC and so do I. I am expecting him to be great everywhere. And I have to be prepared to take the fight anywhere, I have to win. Whether it’s on the ground, or if he wants to strike then we’ll strike. Someone’s gonna go down. But we have to be ready for anything.”
Anthony Romero has been a lifelong martial artist since the age of five. He acquired his taekwondo black belt at the age of 12 but it wasn’t until seeing Patrick Cote fight Anderson Silva that Romero knew MMA was his calling.
“Yeah, it’s funny because around that time, there was a gym that opened in my town like five minutes from my house. And I wasn’t really training in Taekwondo anymore because at that point, I don’t want to say boredom because I don’t want to offend the sport but it was at that point where I didn’t have an interest. I wanted to try something new and I saw MMA. And then all of a sudden there’s an MMA gym in my town.”
Romero vs Breeden
MMA fighters were superheroes to him early on and Romero wanted to be just like the guys he saw on TV. Anthony Romero’s game since that pivotal moment has become quite well rounded with his wrestling game continually growing. In fact, earlier in the year he competed at Parabellum Luctator in an effort to grow that part of his skillset.
“Yeah, that event was actually my first wrestling match ever. I’ve never competed wrestling in high school or university. I trained with the team here and there but I never competed in regular tournaments, or whatnot. So that was very nerve wracking for me to throw myself into someone else’s sport. But that’s how you grow in the sport, by putting yourself into challenges, and going through them. So, that was exciting, but I can’t thank my wrestling coach Chris Prickett enough.”
Anthony Romero continued, “He’s really transformed my game, not just showing me wrestling but how to incorporate the wrestling into MMA. That it’s not just ‘wrestle’ but ‘wrestle with strikes’. And you can use your wrestling with jujitsu and chaining everything together. So I can’t thank him enough. Assistant coach at Brock University for wrestling. He’s one of my coaches that’ll be coming with me to Vegas.”
Romero initially began cutting his teeth in Welland, Ontario with Modern Vision MMA and Napper’s Boxing Club early on. Apropos that an MMA gym of that name would lay the groundwork to galvanize what is Romero’s modern vision.
“He showed me the ropes. The basic things and really helped me a lot. Obviously I wouldn’t be here without starting at that gym. Very appreciative and we’ve gone our separate ways. But, yeah, that gym is great as well as Napper’s boxing. It’s always good to isolate a sport and dissect it and look at different things. Whereas if you’re just doing MMA. There’s so many things you need to worry about. So if you focus on the striking and see what you really need to work on. The best thing to do is to go to boxing or go straight to muay Thai or just plain wrestling.”
Nowadays Romero has moved on and is now working with Parabellum MMA, Brock University wrestling, Niagara Top Team, and Burlington Training Center. A lot of this fervent cross-training has been obviously affected in lieu of COVID-19 hindrances. The methodology has certainly changed the training a bit for this fight.
“I have to obviously follow the rules to make sure I’m safe as well. Don’t want to be training for this fight and then next thing you know I’m like these other fighters being tested positive for the coronavirus. I understand the mentality. They want to train with all these people and they want to get better than their opponent. But there comes a point where health has to be the top priority. So yeah when we’re training with small groups. I’m selecting guys that are like my opponent. And obviously guys that are better. To show me things that I need to work on. Some of the best professional fighters in Ontario, let alone Canada. Improving every day.”
Speaking of the infamous Brock University Wrestling team, Romero’s girlfriend is actually a wrestler at Brock University. “Yeah, she’s awesome she’s supporting me every step of the way. She’s improving my wrestling. She’s very supportive and she always has a smile on her face when I show up in the wrestling room. But yeah, it’s awesome.”
It seems like many within Romero’s inner circle are passionate about martial arts. His Mom writes martial arts articles, his brother has a fight podcast and is a national champion golden gloves boxer, and his sister does jiu-jitsu with Olympic aspirations in gymnastics. They always watch fights together on Saturday night and bond as a family through fisticuffs.
Aaron Jeffery is a former Contender Series alum and has trained with Romero a fair bit on the Ontario scene. Jeffery was the first Canadian on Contender Series and several compatriots have subsequently made waves on that show. The two discussed some facets of the Contender Series experience but Romero has some base level of familiarity with it any way.
“Yeah, we’ve talked about some things. More like for preparation. But other than that I was there actually last year. I went on the trip with those guys. My coaches and him and I saw the whole environment. Even this year it’s at the Apex again. I know that’s it’s super cold in there. It’s air-conditioned and not as hot as it is outside in Vegas. So yeah I know the whole environment and I know it gets pretty quiet in there as well. So it was nice to have that opportunity to go on that trip.”
From last year as an observer to his year as a competitor, it has been quite the Contender Series arc for Anthony Romero. He has a chance to close out this saga with the ideal ending and Romero has a chance to carve out his own fate Tuesday night via UFC Fight Pass.