Bellator 266: Phil Davis vs. Yoel Romero Preview

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Bellator returns to action this weekend with one of the most anticipated debuts the organization has had in quite some time as Phil Davis welcomes Yoel Romero to the promotion.

Fans have been anxiously awaiting Romero’s Bellator debut and it’s finally upon us. Join us as we preview this fantastic matchup and break down the paths to victory!

Phil Davis vs. Yoel Romero: Meet the Fighters

Phil “Mr. Wonderful” Davis

Phil Davis Bellator 266
Mixed Martial Arts: Bellator NYC: Closeup view of Phil Davis (red gloves) in action vs Ryan Bader during Light Heavyweight World Title bout at Madison Square Garden. New York, NY 6/24/2017 CREDIT: Chad Matthew Carlson (Photo by Chad Matthew Carlson /Sports Illustrated via Getty Images) (Set Number: SI932 TK6 )

Phil Davis enters this fight with Romero following his first-round loss in the Light Heavyweight Grand Prix to the current champion, Vadim Nemkov. He holds a professional record of 22-6, 1 NC (9-3 in Bellator), and looks to secure one of the biggest wins of his career at Bellator 266. Even in his UFC run, Davis was always competing with the top of the heap and nothing has changed since debuting with Bellator in 2015.

Now at 36 years old, Davis is looking to prove he can still be in talks with the elite in this division and a win over Yoel Romero would do just that. Whilst fans have not seen Romero compete at light heavyweight before, it should not come as a surprise that he should fill out just fine up twenty pounds from his usual weight class. So, can Davis combat the brute strength that Romero possesses to implement his game plan? This is one of the biggest question marks in this one, not to mention the pure power that “The Soldier of God” can threaten Davis with.

Davis has shown his phenomenal athletic abilities time and time again throughout his career, and they will need to be on full display once more to come out with a victory here. Paired with his great wrestling abilities, this is a matchup that is so hard to predict. With a lot on the line in this light heavyweight showcase, leave no doubt that Davis will come out looking to do whatever it takes to get back into the win column. 

Yoel “The Soldier of God” Romero

Yoel Romero Bellator 266
PERTH, AUSTRALIA – FEBRUARY 11: (R-L) Yoel Romero of Cuba celebrates his knockout victory over Luke Rockhold in their interim middleweight title bout during the UFC 221 event at Perth Arena on February 11, 2018 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

It has been over 18 months since fans have last seen Yoel Romero in action, but that streak will finally come to an end at Bellator 266. After having to pull out of his originally scheduled Bellator debut earlier this year due to an eye injury, Romero will get his long-awaited shot against Davis. The former UFC title challenger and Olympic silver medalist holds a 13-5 (Bellator debut) record, and at 44 years old, one can only wonder how much gas is left in the tank for “The Soldier of God”?

With 11 victories coming by way of KO/TKO, very rarely is Romero involved in a dull fight, title fight with Israel Adesanya excluded of course. Romero’s lighting fast speed, paired with his insane strength and phenomenal athletic talents, make him one of the rarest individuals in combat sports history. Not to mention his high-caliber freestyle wrestling is always there as a backup in his arsenal of weapons. 

The biggest factor in this bout, however, is that Romero will be fighting up a weight class, carrying an additional 20 pounds into the cage come fight night. How will this affect his aforementioned speed? Is it also possible that it could hinder his cardio? It is clear that with this change, comes many grey areas. And with an opponent as experienced and well-versed as Davis, Romero may have to make quick work of his opponent in his Bellator debut, otherwise, this fight could be drawn into deep waters, making this matchup a whole lot more intriguing. 

Fight Breakdown

This is such a fantastic matchup to see where Romero belongs, in terms of the top of the Bellator light heavyweight division. Giving him such a highly-touted, seasoned opponent in Davis, is the perfect welcome to the organization. For Romero, it may seem obvious that on the feet, he will have the advantage just about everywhere. The power, the speed, and the pace at which he pressures his opponents should have Davis on his back foot. Again, will the move up in weight make a difference, only time will tell.

Whilst Davis is no slouch on the feet, it has been made clear in the numerous victories he holds, he loves to grind it out and secure the win by any means necessary. The problem with this matchup for Davis is that Romero is just as great, if not better, a wrestler than him, although we may not see it as much. So can Davis actually get Romero to the ground and if so, can he hold him there to land his patented ground and pound or find the opening for a submission?

However, there is also the possibility in which either of these fighters has success in a reverse manner. That being Davis finding his shots on the feet. This is very much a realistic aspect to take into consideration due to the reach of Davis and his ability to find solid strikes at range, while Romero finds his biggest shots in the dirty boxing and up against the cage positions. And for Romero, his offensive wrestling could play a bigger factor than what he has shown in his recent bouts. That is because while Davis is a great grappler himself, the strength of Romero could very much overwhelm Davis and allow for opportunities to land big takedowns and alter the results of this bout.

This fight has very big implications for the winner, being that they will hold a top-three spot in the division after the Grand Prix. They will be waiting in the wings for the next big challenge to launch them into title contention. Two veterans with so much to prove, and the skillsets to do just that, this is a can’t miss matchup at Bellator 266. It has been an amazing year for the promotion and this event is sure to add another feather to their cap. 

Let us know your predictions for Phil Davis vs. Yoel Romero in the comments below!

Featured Image Credits To Bellator MMA

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Dominic Sallee is a Combat Sports writer. He focuses primarily on the UFC, with plans to venture out with pieces from other MMA organizations in the future. Along with writing, Dominic is also the Co-Host of the Below Average Joe's MMA Podcast, which produces 2-3 new episodes per week about all things in the MMA community!