Yoel Romero’s arrival in Bellator finally transpired Saturday night at the SAP Center in San Jose, California. And while it didn’t go according to plan for the “Soldier of God,” Romero looked as powerful as ever up at 205lbs.
Romero’s main event tilt with Phil Davis wound up going to a split decision (another judging controversy, as Davis had clearly won the bout), only for him to apparently express surprise after the fact that the bout was just three rounds. Romero’s old home, the UFC, boasts five-round non-title main events. That’s something Bellator has yet to move to — but promotion president Scott Coker suggested they could be coming.
“I think at some point you’ll see it,” Coker told media outlets including Cageside Press following the event. “I just know that once we make that decision, it’s not going to go back.”
As to Romero’s apparent surprise at the fight ending, Coker suggested that ahead of the fight, it’s something the Cuban had been looking for. “I heard that was something in his mind too. Can’t blame him, he’s been fighting five rounds a lot in his career. But this was a three round fight. Maybe next time, he’ll be in a five round fight.”
As far as when “next time” might be, that seems up to Romero. But Coker appears open to having the 44-year old make a quick turnaround.
“Since he came out of the cage tonight, I haven’t talked to him, but if he wants to get back in there right away, we definitely would like to have a conversation with him about that,” Coker said in regards to a turnaround time for Yoel. “I think that he put on a good performance. Phil is at a super high level right now, he’s been fighting, been consistent. Yoel hung in there and did his thing.”
While Coker admitted that Romero “got taken down,” and had “a couple missed punches,” he also noted that “it could have ended a lot differently, it could have been a different outcome if Yoel had of punched him with one of those big bombs he throws. I’m not kidding, this guy, if he hits you, it’s going to be lights out. He’s got that kind of freaky power.”
Aside from Yoel Romero’s debut, Saturday also saw the announcement that Julius Anglickas was stepping into the light heavyweight grand prix against Vadim Nemkov. The #5 ranked light heavyweight gets the nod after Anthony Johnson was forced out due to illness.
Originally, Anglickas had been paired up with Karl Albrektsson at Bellator 268, where he will now face Nemkov.
“When we picked him as an alternate, we felt good about it. When Rumble pulled out, we said ‘okay, we’re going to go to our alternate,’ just like we had in done in tournaments in the past,” Coker said when asked about the switch. “To me, I feel good about it. Here’s a talented kid. In tournaments, you never know what’s going to happen. He’s got a tough, tough fight with Nemkov, I get it, but anything can happen in these tournaments. And that’s what I love about it. Tournaments build stars, and tournaments are unpredictable. To me, he’s going into a situation where Nemkov doesn’t really know him that well. He might know him better than Nemkov knows him.”
Coker knows very well how tournament alternates can ultimately find success. His Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix a decade ago was won by a fighter known mainly to hardcore fans at the time: Daniel Cormier.
What the full Bellator 266 post-fight press conference with Scott Coker above. More post-fight coverage can be found below!