Bellator 266: “Davis vs Romero” is set to air tonight (Sat., Sept. 18, 2021) inside SAP Center in San Jose, Ca., which will feature the highly-anticipated promotional debut of Yoel Romero, who will battle former division champion, Phil Davis. In the co-main event, Neiman Gracie takes on Mark Lemminger.
205 lbs.: Phil Davis vs. Yoel Romero
After having his Bellator debut delayed earlier this year — which knocked him out of his fight against Anthony Johnson in the Light Heavyweight Grand Prix — Yoel Romero will finally get to make his promotional debut. The former two-time Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) title contender is hoping to find a new lease on his combat life after suffering three straight losses inside the Octagon, ending his UFC career losing four out of his last five fights. At 44 years of age, the window of opportunity in the combat game is closing for “Soldier of God” and another loss could be disastrous for his hopes of ever competing for a world title. Against Davis, he will face another elite wrestler who is eying a return to the win column. But prior to losing to Vadim Nemkov at Bellator 257, Davis was on a three fight win streak. He is 9-2 overall during his stint with the Viacom-owned MMA promotion, so “Mr. Wonderful” is still firing on all cylinders and hasn’t seemed to have lost much of a step. Despite Romero’s recent woes, Davis won’t be taking the Cuban-born fighter lightly because “Soldier of God” has proven to pack plenty of power in his punches. A standup war, though, isn’t likely when these two powerful grapplers collide, much to the chagrin of fight fans. What this boils down to is whose wrestling is better and of course, which fighter’s cardio holds up better. Expect it to go the distance in a one-sided affair.
Final Prediction: Davis via unanimous decision
170 lbs.: Neiman Gracie vs. Mark Lemminger
When someone owns a 10-2 record, it’s kind of hard to say they’re in a slump. But that is kind of where Gracie finds himself at the moment. After starting off his combat career at 10-0, he is just 1-2 in his last three fights and is coming off a loss against Jason Jackson at Bellator 255. The jiu-jitsu ace eyes a return to the winner’s circle when he battles Mark Lemminger, who broke his two fight skid by taking out Demarques Jackson at Bellator 260. I’ll be honest, I had trouble understanding the logic when this fight was booked because Gracie is ranked No. 4 while Lemminger is nowhere to be seen in the official rankings. I would have liked to see Gracie face someone ranked in the Top 10. It's a high risk, low reward type of fight for Gracie, who won’t move up the rankings with a win. For Lemminger, though, it’s the complete opposite because he has the chance to upset the order at 170 pounds. It’s a tough task to say the least but one that is attainable if he is at the top of his game.
Final Prediction: Gracie via second round submission
125 lbs.: Alejandra Lara vs. DeAnna Bennett
Lara was well on her way to making a case for a shot at the women’s Flyweight title before she ran into Kana Watanabe at Bellator 255, losing via razor-thin split decision to snap her two-fight win streak. Now, Lara must pick up the pieces and keep marching forward to prevent from falling out of the Top 5 and further away from her championship dreams. She will be taking on DeAnna Bennett, who has been anything but successful in the sport of MMA in the last three years. She has lost three straight, which includes her Bellator debut against Liz Carmouche at Bellator 246 in Sept. 2020. By the way, Bennett missed weight for that fight...and this one as well. To say Bennett has seen better days in the sport would be an understatement, but she is looking for brighter days if she can upset Lara, which is unlikely to happen here. Lara is simply leaps and bounds above Bennett, who is a paltry 2-7-1 on her last 10 fights. I don’t see any area in which she can give Lara trouble, so I expect “Azul” to cruise her way to victory in this one, which is once again questionable matchmaking.
Final prediction: Alejandra Lara via second round TKO
155 lbs.: Georgi Karakhanyan vs. Saul Rogers
After starting off his Bellator run with a 1-3 record, Georgi Karakhanyan seems to have found his groove again. “Gogo” has won two in a row — his longest win streak in five years — after scoring back-to-back wins over Bryce Logan and Kiefer Crosbie. The longtime veteran has his fair share of big wins over the span of his career, including taking out PFL champion Lance Palmer and UFC vet Din Thomas. He’s also shared the cage with some of the best Bellator has to offer including A.J. Mckee. Patricio Pitbull and Emmanuel Sanchez, coming up short against all three of those men. Despite those losses and setbacks, Karakhanyan is battle tested, which means there isn’t much Rogers will be able to throw at him to catch him off guard. Speaking of grooves, Rogers is in search of his own. He has alternated wins and losses since 2016 and is just 2-2 inside the Bellator cage. He hasn’t really done much to draw attention to himself, so a big win over Karakhanyan is crucial if he wants to level up on his career. He was last seen losing to Mads Burnell at Bellator 257 earlier this year so the hunger to get a win is there. I just don’t see it coming against Karakhanyan because “Insane” is firing on all cylinders at the moment and has looked great in his last two fights. Sure, Rogers has a puncher’s chance to land something, but if it goes the distance Karakhanyan has the tools to dominate this fight pretty much everywhere it goes.
Final Prediction: Karakhanyan via unanimous decision
205 lbs.: Christian Edwards vs. Ben Parrish
Christian Edwards made his pro debut just two years ago, but he has already made an impression in the fight game, winning all five of his fights (all in Bellator), which is good enough to put him in the No. 8 spot on the official rankings in what is truly a stacked division. During his short stint with the promotion, Edwards has shown a well-rounded game with the ability to knockout out his opponents, submit them or grind out a decision. He will next welcome Ben Parrish — who holds a record of 4-1 — to the promotion to kick off the main card. The two were set to face off earlier this year before the fight was scrapped. Again, I scratch my head at this matchmaking. I mean, the Top 10 is filled with plenty of better options to test Edwards, perhaps a Grant Neal or even a Lyoto Machida. Perhaps matchmakers were thinking Edwards is still green and giving him a newcomer was obviously the best course of action in their eyes. Still, Edwards needs to be alert and keep his head on a swivel because once Parrish takes it to the ground he dominates, winning five of his six fights via submission — four professional and one amateur. Edwards prefers to keep the action on the feet and we haven't seen much of Parrish there to show that he can hang in a striking battle. Or perhaps he doesn’t need to since jiu-jitsu is clearly his world. But before it gets to the ground Parrish has to get close enough to get a hold of Edwards. I don’t see it going well for Parrish here because once he closes the distance, he will run the risk of getting clipped early.
Final prediction: Edwards via first round knockout