It might not be the exact Bellator MMA debut fans and promotional supporters were hoping for for Yoel Romero on Saturday, but the 44-year-old “Soldier of God” should still have his hands full against the former midweight champion. -Heavy Phil Davis.
Romero (13-5) was forced to withdraw from his initially scheduled fight against Anthony “Rumble” Johnson in May, in a quarter-final bout of the World Light Heavyweight Grand Prix, after being stung in the l eye during a fight. Instead, the former Cuban Olympic silver medalist will headline the Bellator 266 in San Jose against an arguably more difficult opponent in Davis (22-6, 1 NC).
“[Romero] and I’m both really good at getting a read on another guy’s tempo and footwork and angles, âDavis said during Thursday’s media availability. âI think there’s going to be a feeling process where we both try to see where the other person is in space and see what kinds of angles and feints and forgeries were using. After I think it’s July 4th. Fireworks!”
It’s hard to ignore the number of questions Romero has asked that go beyond age and his recent injury. He’s been inactive for 18 months dating back to his loss of the UFC middleweight title to Israel Adesanya in March 2020 and he will rebound to 205 pounds for the first time since 2011. Romero also enters after losing four of his last five fights. albeit by tight decisions against the middleweight elite.
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âI feel great because I didn’t have to lose weight. I just kept my own weight,â Romero said. âI just changed divisions and kept my own weight. And I have always trained with heavy weights and light heavy weights in my training camp. I’m completely adapted to the heavier weights.â
Davis, 36, whose only losses since leaving the UFC for Bellator in 2015 were the result of an extremely slim decision against current Bellator champions Vadim Nemkov (twice) and Ryan Bader, will enter the combat with advantages of four inches in height and six inches of reach.
Yet despite the size difference, Davis doesn’t think that will play a role given the number of lanky fighters Romero has faced in the UFC with high levels of success. Davis also believes that Romero’s long layoff will prove to be positive for him, as it has given his body time to adjust to the new weight class.
The only thing some Davis might say about how the styles of the two fighters will play against each other is that he’s not sure.
âYou’ll have to watch Saturday,â Davis said. “Will he be rusty because he’s been gone for a while? I don’t know. Will he be slower because he’s gained weight? I don’t know. Will I be faster. ? I like to think so … think I’ll have a speed advantage, but you still want to give a guy like that an X factor.
“Not only do I push harder in training because I know I have a guy who is going to take me to the next level, but he’s one of the best in the world and you want to give him that credit in you. preparing for it. “
Elsewhere on the map, Neiman Gracie is looking to return to the winning column when he faces Mark Lemminger in a welterweight contest. Gracie has suffered her only professional losses in two of her last three fights, both coming by decision of Rory MacDonald and Jason Jackson. The submission specialist has nine wins by pressure, including an impressive save from Jon Fitch in September 2020. He fights against Lemminger, who has won five of his last seven with his two losses against current welterweight champion Yaroslav Amosov and Jaleel Willis.
Fight card, odds
Odds via Caesars Sportsbook
- Phil Davis -125 vs. Yoel Romero +105, light heavyweight
- Neiman Gracie -280 v Mark Lemminger +230, welterweight
- Alejandra Lara -160 vs. Deanna Bennett +135, women’s flyweight
- Saul Rogers -125 v Georgi Karakhanyan +105, featherweight
- Christian Edwards -900 vs. Ben Parrish +600, light heavyweight
Bellator 266 viewing information
The fact that Romero is a threat to end the fight at any time with his four limbs should see Davis on high alert throughout. It could also lead him to a low return that would see the fight turn into a three-point fight and a technical battle that would favor the longer Davis and steal the entertainment value.
It will ultimately be Romero’s responsibility to finish the fight and find a way to systematically enter Davis without wasting himself in the process. It’s a difficult proposition in theory given that Romero is more of a counter-attacker and Davis, who has never been stopped in 29 pro fights, has seen 15 of his last 17 fights stretch to at least the final round, including 12 who traveled the entire distance.
The fact that both have such decorated wrestling backgrounds likely means that the fight is played exclusively by feet. The question will therefore become whether Romero can be busy enough to stand a chance of winning a decision if he proves unable to secure the finish.
Although both fighters have given up on tight decisions in big fights lately due to their lack of activity in convincing the judges, all relevant elements still favor Davis for the victory.
Davis will certainly have to navigate rough waters early on given Romero’s explosive unpredictability and the fact that the fight lasts three rounds instead of five likely plays a big part in the fact that the betting odds are so close that Romero owes less. worry about his pace. Still, the two negative scenarios Romero could face – the likelihood that he throws too little while being too patient as a counterattacker or the chance that he gets tired to finish – still lead to a Davis win.
Despite all the romantic hope that Romero can lure Davis into the kind of thrilling brawl he had with Paulo Costa just two years ago at UFC 241, Davis just won’t be a willing dance partner. It either.
To take: Davis by unanimous decision