Bellator 266: Romero Looks to Start Third MMA Chapter Against Davis

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Phil Davis and Yoel Romero, Bellator 266 weigh-in
Phil Davis and Yoel Romero, Bellator 266 weigh-in Credit: Bellator MMA

UFC veteran Yoel Romero is hoping to begin a successful new chapter in Bellator, but former champion Phil Davis looks to spoil his plans at Bellator 266.

Former champion Phil Davis has never dodged top opposition and Saturday will be no different as he goes out to prove that he remains an elite threat in one of the most competitive divisions in arguably the toughest light-heavyweight division in MMA.  One can forget that since Davis has been in Bellator, he has only lost to Ryan Bader and current champion Vadim Nemkov.  However, the revolving door of intrigue at light heavyweight has made it appear that he is further from a title shot than he has been in actuality.

At 36 years old, “Mr. Wonderful” is in a precarious place in the division.  He has already been in the fight game for more than a decade.  Despite his best efforts, he has come up short in at his only shot at reclaiming his belt (so far) and has lost to three quarters of the field remaining in the light heavyweight Grand Prix. If he is going to make that magical run back to championship gold, then the time is now.

At age 44, Yoel Romero is always competing on borrowed time.  A physical specimen even by MMA standards, every fight now runs the risk that it could be the night that Romero’s speed and athleticism are no longer there.  One can argue he has to prove it hasn’t already happened, with his fight against Israel Adesanya for the UFC middleweight title being one of the most criticized performances in MMA history on his part.  Should he be inactive for a second fight in a row, talk of the end of Romero’s time as an elite fighter will undoubtedly begin.

If Romero can turn back the clock on Saturday, it would be one of the greatest injections of interest seen in Bellator in quite some time.  A silver medalist at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, Romero has faced the best middleweights of the past decade in Adesanya, Robert Whittaker, Luke Rockhold, Derek Brunson, and others.  Now moving up in weight, the hope is that he is faster and more refreshed as he is not cutting the extra twenty pounds to the middleweight limit.

While the fight pits two fighters with highly respected wrestling, the real x-factor is whether or not Romero will use his.  Romero, despite having had opportunities, has not used his to great effect in recent years.  Should that trend continue, the taller frame and multi-faceted attack of Davis will provide plenty of problems.  While Davis is not known for his high work rate, the threat of the takedown could make Romero more cautious to let his hands go.  As such, Romero will need to attack the body and the legs to wear down Davis if he does not plan to use his wrestling in the fight.

Bellator president Scott Coker has said that it’s possible that Romero also fights at middleweight.  A fight with the winner of the upcoming match between champion Gegard Mousasi and Austin Vanderford would be an appealing one.  Should he stay at light heavyweight, one of the losers of the upcoming Grand Prix semifinals would also make for a fun match-up.

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