Scott Coker has come around on Yoel Romero, marking a change in tune from what he told MMA Junkie onsite at the Mohegan Sun Arena in early December in Uncasville, Conn.

Ahead of Bellator 254, news surfaced Romero (13-5 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) and the UFC had parted ways. On Dec. 9, Coker told MMA Junkie he was content with the roster he already had – a phrase the Bellator president often uses as a polite way of saying he’s not interested in bringing a specific fighter onboard.

Five days later, Romero was signed to a multifight deal with the promotion.

So why the change in heart?

“Yoel started with us in Strikeforce back in 2008,” Coker recently told MMA Junkie. “Part of me wanted to do it. Part of me didn’t want to do it. After we signed ‘Rumble’ (Johnson), we had the chance to (sign) Yoel. We passed on (him). I’ll tell you, honestly, the amount of support he got coming through our doors and through the social channels really was impressive. Everybody wanted to see the Yoel Romero vs. ‘Rumble’ Johnson fight. I huddled up with my team.

“I’ll tell you one thing in this situation people don’t really realize: Even if we said we were going to pass, we talk to these agents all the time – every day. Yoel’s name kept coming up and coming up. Finally, I just said, ‘You know what? Let’s do it. Let’s just add him into the mix.’”

It wasn’t just the potential fight against Anthony Johnson that caused Coker to jump onboard. Coker thinks Romero, despite being 43 years old, still has a lot left in the tank – and has a massive fan base eager to see him return.

“He’s (such) an amazing talent,” Coker said. “He still is somebody that is very dangerous. He definitely can still fight. I said, ‘Let’s put him in the mix, and let’s just go for it.’ I’m glad we did. I had a little chat with him. It was great. He seems like such a nice guy and very mature. I’m looking forward to putting him into our 205-pound mix sometime next year.”

Romero, who is No. 6 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMA Junkie middleweight rankings, has lost recent decisions to Paulo Costa and Israel Adesanya, giving him a 1-4 record leading up to his release.

Although he didn’t capture a title, Romero still left his mark in the UFC. He has the third-most knockouts in middleweight history (seven), the third-most knockdowns (10), and is one of two fighters in UFC history with multiple flying knee finishes, along with other accolades.