Bellator 266: Bellator MMA Fight Recap

Coverage of Bellator MMA 266: Davis vs Romero by Fringe MMA

Bellator 266 kicked off tonight from none other than the “Shark Tank” arena in San Jose, California and the card was overall an entertaining affair. It was a good night for Bellator MMA overall. There were some good back and forth battles, some knock outs and another relative snoozer starring Yoel Romero. Going head to head with the industry leader in the UFC is a challenging affair, but Scott Coker and crew put on a solid product and for me it was all Bellator tonight.

In the evenings main event we had the somewhat long awaited Bellator debut of one Yoel Romero going up against another former UFC standout in Phil “Mr. Wonderfull” Davis. Davis for his part is looking to bounce back from losing the Bellator Championship fight to Vadim Nemkov a few months back. He’s gone 7-3 in his last 10 fights with a pair of those losses coming at the hands of Nemkov and the other to Ryan Bader.

It was a bit of a head scratcher to me that Coker and crew decided to sign on the 44 year old Yoel Romero coming off three straight losses and one of the worst fights in history against Adesanya in the UFC. But I guess Coker wanted to give some love to one of his Strikeforce fighters.

One thing I want to point out is, what the hell was up with this crowd? I haven’t heard that many boos since the old days when people had no idea what ground game looked like. They heavily boo’d Phil Davis on the walkout even though he is 4-0 in his fights at the Shark Tank. What gives San Jose?

Bellator Fight: Phil Davis vs Yoel Romero

The fight kicked off pretty much as you’d expect with Davis being careful while trying to find his range and The Soldier of God basically just standing there waiting to get attacked and counter with a Cuban Missle of a right hand. The first round didn’t see much action outside of a few leg kicks and a lot of pawing from Davis. This round was more like watching a snake charming show than a mixed martial arts main event. Aside from a pretty close front kick from Romero that almost landed on the chin of Davis, there really wasn’t much going on here. John McCarthy had the round 10-9 for Davis, so did we.

The second round got off to an even slower start than the first but Davis looked more determined to engage and did so after about a minute of no action with a good body shot. They traded a few shots before Davis went for a takedown from the outside which Romero easily stuffed. Davis kept pawing at him but just couldn’t seem to get through his guard. Romero actually landed a thudding leg kick that definitely got Mr. Wonderful’s attention. Romero whiffed on some big overhand rights. There was definitely more action in this round and Davis showed he can take a punch when he ate a stiff straight like it was nothing. The round came to a close with Davis catching Romero with a straight and landing a perfectly timed takedown off it, though it was too late for him to do much with it. This wasn’t really the debut I think Yoel Romero was hoping for in Bellator. Fight a guy like Phil Davis and it’s hard to get your offense going.

The third was an entirely different affair. Romero came out looking visibly slow to me and Davis was finding his range with the jab while Yoel kept up with missing wild overhand punches. It wouldn’t be long before Davis found another takedown landing in side control. His wrestling looked slick and Romero all of the sudden looked every bit like a 44 year old man getting overwhelmed. He would scramble and get to his feet a few times, but Davis kept dumping him and getting into side control, eventually taking his back side and landing some solid knees to the body. Romero was able to get to his feet against the cage, but Davis was giving him zero room or chances to mount an offence up to the bell.

That fight was all Phil Davis from bell to bell, yet somehow, inexplicably one of the judges gave it 29-28 to Romero??? What fight was this clown watching? That is absolutely disgusting in my opinion and the commentators agreed.

So with that, the The Soldier of God hype train was soundly derailed and for Yoel Romero, age is turning out to be more than just a number. There was never a moment in that fight where Phil Davis was in danger. Good on him and I hope we get to see him get back to the apex of the sport fighting to become one of the Bellator Champions yet again in the near future.

Bellator Fight: Neiman Gracie vs Mark Lemminger

I don’t know about you, but it is always a pleasure watching the bloodline of great champions like the Gracies. It reminds me of watching kickboxing legend and 6 time world champion Juan “The Ghost Warrior” Torres’ son JJ Torres make his debut at Combate Americas a few years back. There is just nothing like seeing the next generation of brilliant mixed martial artists perform.

This was billed as the classic wrestler vs jiu jitsu practitioner matchup. But Neiman Gracie had other ideas and came out landing the first strike with a jab right out the gate. They both bobbed and weaved for a quick minute and Gracie brought him to the cage in the clinch. I was sure like everyone else watching at that point, this was going to be a quick submission.

Not… So… Fast, says Gracie as he breaks from the clinch and lands and absolutely crystal elbow on the break. He stood back for only a second and threw a few straights setting up a flush uppercut that found its home square on the chin of Mark Lemminger. Neiman showed some excellent patience and picked his shots with perfect accuracy, laying it on him against the cage. And just like that the fight was over as referee John Herzog stepped in to stop the massacre.

With that the Gracie MMA family product picks up his first win by way of knock out and is sure to start climbing the Bellator rankings in short order. That was an impressive showing of an evolution in Neiman Gracie’s stand up game. I look forward to what the future has in store for this kid.

DeAnna Bennett vs Alejandra Lara

This fight was supposed to be a tough test for DeAnna “Vitamin D” Bennett returning from that nasty hamstring injury in her last outing. Many were wondering how she would come back from literally ripping her muscle completely off the bone.

Well, no one is wondering now and she put on a wonderfully dominant performance against a game Alejandra Lara. She definitely impressed in the stand up department as most people expected her to quickly take Lara to the ground. She eventually did, but not before out striking her on the feet and throwing a ridiculous output of strikes.

She dominated from bell to bell and picked up a much needed win in a clutch situation in front of her hometown crowd at the Shark Tank. I have to say I was definitely choked up in the post fight interview when she talked about her late father and his last words “Fight”. Congratulations and I’m sure I speak for a lot of people when I say keep it up. I’m looking forward to your next outing for sure.

Saul Rogers vs Georgi Karakhanyan

This fight was fantastic with both men showing some flashes of brilliance throughout the fight. The first round Georgi seemed a step ahead in the striking department, but not too far ahead. Then Rogers ripped off a beautiful takedown and Georgi was active with submission attempts off his back.

The second stanza was where things really turned up with Rogers securing the takedown but landing in a guillotine choke that looked pretty deep, he was ultimately able to free his head. The two stood up and Karakhanyan landed a perfect flying knee that wobbled Saul, he would go on to land two more in a row on him. That’s right, the kid threw three flying knees in a few seconds, mental.

The third saw Rogers get the takedown and land in the guillotine again, but this time it wasn’t really dangerous. He largely controlled the action from there on with Karakhanyan trying to explode out and finding nothing. At this point the crowd starts booing inexplicably… I don’t know what they are seeing, but both men have been staying busy for the whole fight. Booooo San Jose crowd, boo… the jokes on you.

Karakhanyan kept trying to get to his feet, but Rogers was just too much for him every time just slamming him back to the mat. Saul Rogers was simply dominant on the ground and muscled out a great win after a good scare with that flying knee. It seems like it was a good move for him making the decision to go up to 155.

For Karakhanyan, I’m sure this won’t be the last we see of him but he needs to either shore up his takedown defense, or work on his submission offense off his back. There were a lot of moments where Rogers was dangling an arm out there for the taking that could have been capitalized on for sure. He can certainly be a threat to other Bellator fighters on the roster.

With that Bellator 266 is in the books and was overall a solid offering from the dark horse MMA promotion. Have you seen the upcoming Bellator schedule? We have got some serious action coming to us from places all over the world including the return of Fedor “The Last Emperor” Emelianenko for the first ever Bellator to take place in Russia and MVP in London.

Until next time, I hope you have a great week and we will see you sooner than later!

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