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Phil Davis excited to put on a show against Yoel Romero: ‘It’s a bucket list fight for me’

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MMA: Bellator 220-Davis vs McGeary Dave Mandel-USA TODAY Sports

Phil Davis will be the man to welcome former UFC middleweight contender Yoel Romero to the Bellator MMA cage later tonight (Sat., Sept. 18, 2021) at Bellator 266 live on Showtime from inside SAP Center in San Jose, California. The two fighters will square off in a light heavyweight main event.

Romero was expected to make his Bellator debut earlier this year against Anthony Johnson, but an eye injury prevented “Soldier of God” from making the walk to the cage. Instead, it will be Davis who matches up against Romero and provides a stiff test for his debut. “Mr. Wonderful” is excited to be that guy, but a fight with Romero isn’t exactly something he saw coming.

“That’s only half of the story: you would have to explain to me COVID and what’s a coronavirus,” Davis told MMA Fighting. “Life just takes you in crazy directions, right?

“I’m excited. He’s definitely a fan favorite, a guy that I like to watch fight. He’s a fighter that was always like, ‘This is how I would approach it, this is the angle I would come with.’ So it’s cool to be able to have that opportunity.”

“This is a fight I looked forward to in the tournament and to somehow get matched with this fight outside of it [is a great consolation prize],” Davis later explained. “I appreciate every fight because it’s an opportunity to go out and showcase my athletic ability, but this is a special fight. It’s a bucket list fight for me.

Davis, who has been one of Bellator’s best fighters since his arrival back in 2015, is coming off a unanimous decision loss to Bellator’s light heavyweight champion Vadim Nemkov this past April. It was the second time “Mr. Wonderful” lost to Nemkov inside of the Bellator cage, but this most recent fight showed that Davis offers more than just high-level grappling. Just don’t expect Davis to come out of his shell every fight.

“A lot of times people can jump from one ship to the other because they want you to fight a certain way,” Davis said. “They say, ‘He’s physically built, we expect him to fight like Yoel Romero,’ however, that’s not my style. That’s not my style, that’s Yoel’s style. It looks like I should be very explosive and knock people out as soon as I touch them. My style is much more calculating, drawn out, I grapple people and wear them out, I choke them or break off their limbs.

“It’s kind of about expectations. Life is about expectations. When you expect something and it doesn’t happen it’s like, ‘I don’t like that.’ In a lot of ways, people only expect you to grapple when your Brazilian. And I’m like, how come I can’t be that guy? Neiman Gracie is spending an entire round on his back setting up triangles and this and that, kimuras, and people are cheering the whole time. Don’t get me wrong, he’s dope. He’s dope. He’s amazing. But like I said before, it’s about expectations.”

As far as his matchup with Romero goes Davis is in a great position to win. While Romero is an accomplished wrestler with solid takedown defense and an explosive standup game he hasn’t competed since March 2020. That’s a long break for any fighter, let alone a 44-year-old veteran. It will be up to Davis to exploit that Saturday night and bring down the house in San Jose.

“Just create fireworks,” said Davis when asked about his prediction for the fight. “He’s an explosive guy and when you have that style, you live by the sword or you die by the sword.”

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