Alex Polizzi found himself with the opportunity of a lifetime at Bellator 280 on Friday night in Paris, France — stepping up on short notice to face Yoel Romero.
Romero, a multi-time UFC title challenger, was in search of his first win in Bellator MMA. Polizzi was looking to score the big upset — but it wasn’t meant to be.
From the outset, Polizzi looked to test the wrestling of Romero, shooting for a takedown that was easily stuffed. In the stand-up department, it was mostly single strikes early, with Polizzi utilizing the odd leg kick. Romero’s power remained a threat, as he looked to catch the younger fighter on the way in. Polizzi worked his jab, going to the body; Romero mixed in a low kick of his own, in what was a slow build through the opening five minutes. Romero would land a late takedown, and they’d head to the second.
In the second, Romero caught Polizzi with a left hand early, forcing him back. Polizzi had definitely felt it, but he didn’t go down, and escaped relatively easily when Romero looked to follow up. Then it was back to center, the chess match once again underway. Another left hand for Romero, at least partially blocked, followed; Polizzi was showing a bit of damage by his right eye however. An oblique kick by Romero wobbled Polizzi later in the round, and he continued to load up on his left. Polizzi was standing toe-to-toe, but eating more strikes than he was landing.
Then, later in the round, Romero dropped Polizzi! It was another left, and Polizzi’s compromised leg probably didn’t help matters. Rather than pounce, Romero waited patiently. When Polizzi got back up, he chopped at his opponent’s leg some more. Polizzi was wobbled, but stayed upright.
Round three had Polizzi likely in need of a finish. Romero immediately went after his lead leg again, which buckled. Polizzi changed levels to shoot a takedown, but Romero easily fought it off. Yoel fanned on a front kick. They locked up at center, with Romero missing on a smoking uppercut off the break. Every second that ticked away was a second closer to Yoel Romero’s first Bellator win. With just over two minutes remaining, another Romero left dropped Polizzi! This time he went after the finish; Polizzi escaped, but was rocked by a left moments later.
It wasn’t long after that when Yoel Romero found the finish. He rocked Polizzi again; Polizzi shot for a desperation takedown, only to eat a massive punch on the way up! With Polizzi battered by Romero, and eating that thunderous blow, the ref waved it off — with just one second remaining in the fight!
𝗔𝘁 𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗕𝘂𝘇𝘇𝗲𝗿 🤯@YoelRomeroMMA leaves it late to get the stoppage in front of a sold-out @Accor_Arena.#Bellator280 LIVE on @SHOsports pic.twitter.com/NRwzhSB7Bq
— BellatorMMA (@BellatorMMA) May 6, 2022
After the fight, Melvin Manhoef was brought into the cage — with promotion officials announcing that the pairing was back on for Dublin. “See you soon, Boy!” Romero said, breaking out his catchphrase against one of the only fighters on the roster older than himself.
Official Result: Yoel Romero def. Alex Polizzi by TKO, Round 3, 4:59