The long-awaited Bellator debut of former UFC title challenger Yoel Romero will happen on Saturday night, as he will take on Phil Davis in the main event of Bellator 266. The bout leads a 12-fight card that will take place at the SAP Center in San Jose, California, USA.
Here’s a preview of the event.
Preliminary Card (7:00PM EDT / 4:00PM PDT) (Youtube)
Bout 1: Jesse Delgado (0-0) vs. Joshua Dillon (1-1) (Catchweight 130 lbs)
In the first of many fights that include a debuting pro on the prelims, newcomer Jesse Delgado will fight Joshua Dillon at a catchweight of 130-pounds.
Delgado is making the switch to MMA after a collegiate wrestling career from 2010 to 2014. He was quite successful in the sport, being an NCAA Division I National Champion and Big Ten Champion in 2013 and 2014.
Dillon has won and lost a bout as a pro, which both came early this year. His only loss was a 49-second finish.
Bout 2: Edwin De Los Santos (0-0) vs. Jon Adams (0-1-1) (Flyweight)
After a successful four-fight run as an amateur, Edwin De Los Santos will turn pro against Jon Adams on Saturday.
De Los Santos fought as an amateur from 2018 to 2019 and scored four wins, including three via stoppage per database Tapology.
Adams will also be searching for his first win. His draw and loss as a pro took place on Bellator shows in 2019.
Bout 3: Rhalan Gracie (0-2) vs. Shane Keefe (1-0) (Welterweight)
Rhalan Gracie will return after nearly a decade out of the cage to fight Shane Keefe.
Gracie has two pro losses, although those appearances date all the way back to 2006 and 2007.
Keefe won his pro debut early this year, defeating Mauricio Sosa in just over a minute with a head kick.
Bout 4: Bobby Seronio III (0-0) vs. Erin Hunter (0-0) (Bantamweight)
In a double pro debut, Bobby Seronio III and Erin Hunter will fight at bantamweight.
Seronio III’s Tapology record reflects a flawless amateur run from 2016 to 2020 with four wins. Hunter’s page shows a different story, as he has attained an even amateur record of three wins and three losses.
Bout 5: Abraham Vaesau (5-3) vs. Albert Gonzales (2-2) (Catchweight 175 lbs)
Abraham Vaesau and Albert Gonzales will return to Bellator programming on Saturday night when meeting on the prelims.
Gonzales scored his first win in Bellator last year, defeating Kastriot Xhema. The fight came a year after his tragic promotional debut, where he suffered a leg injury in the second minute of action.
Vaesau has fought twice in Bellator but has been out of the cage since September 2019.
Bout 6: Khalid Murtazaliev (15-2) vs. Anthony Adams (8-2) (Middleweight)
Riding the momentum of a successful Bellator debut from earlier this year, Khalid Murtazaliev will fight Anthony Adams.
Murtazaliev entered the promotion in April, defeating Fabio Aguiar via unanimous decision. The fight Murtazaliev’s first appearance since his one-fight UFC run that concluded after he was given a two-year U.S. Anti-Doping Agency suspension.
Adams is making his first appearance in over a year. The middleweight prospect lost in his last appearance, dropping a decision to Impa Kasanganay on UFC TV show “Dana White’s Contender Series” in 2020.
Bout 7: Grant Neal (6-0) vs. Alex Polizzi (8-1) (Middleweight)
Undefeated Bellator veteran Grant Neal will face former LFA champ Alex Polizzi in the final prelim of the evening.
Polizzi has earned two wins and one loss since joining Bellator last year. He bounced back from his sole pro loss in June, submitting Gustavo Trujillo within a round.
Main Card (10:00PM EDT / 7:00PM PDT) (Showtime)
Bout 8: Christian Edwards (5-0) vs. Ben Parrish (4-1) (Light Heavyweight)
Christian Edwards will attempt to keep his undefeated record going when facing Ben Parrish at the start of Saturday’s main card.
Edwards and Parrish were first scheduled to fight in May and June, although both iterations of that bout were scrapped.
The entire five-fight pro career of Edwards has taken place in the Bellator cage. He scored the biggest win in his career in June, defeating RIZIN alum Simon Biyong via unanimous decision.
Parrish is competing for the first time since taking his first pro loss, which happened in late 2019.
Bout 9: Georgi Karakhanyan (31-11-1) vs. Saul Rogers (14-4) (Lightweight)
One of the most experienced veterans on Bellator’s roster, Georgi Karakhanyan, will meet Saul Rogers on Saturday night.
Karakhanyan is currently on an upswing in Bellator. This fight is somewhat of a quick turnaround for him, as he picked up a first-round arm triangle submission win against Kiefer Crosbie in July.
Karakhanyan’s record in Bellator is currently even with nine wins and nine losses.
Rogers took a loss in his last fight, getting stopped by Mads Burnell in April.
Bout 10: DeAnna Bennett (10-7-1) vs. Alejandra Lara (9-4) (Flyweight)
After a couple setbacks, a flyweight bout between DeAnna Bennett and Alejandra Lara will finally take place this weekend.
Lara and Bennett were targeted for two Bellator dates this summer before being placed on this September card.
Bennett, a veteran of Invicta FC, will be looking to bounce back after losing her promotional debut. She first fought in Bellator over a year ago, losing to former UFC title challenger Liz Carmouche.
Lara had a two-fight win streak broken in April, losing a close split decision to then-undefeated Kana Watanabe.
Bennett missed weight for the fight, coming in three pounds over the non-championship limit.
Bout 11: Neiman Gracie (10-2) vs. Mark Lemminger (12-3) (Welterweight)
Welterweights Neiman Gracie and Mark Lemminger have been matched for Saturday’s co-main event.
Gracie has been competing at a high level in Bellator’s welterweight division for the past few years. He most notably challenged for the promotion’s 170-pound belt in 2019, losing a five-round fight to Rory MacDonald.
He got back to winning ways in 2020 with a submission win against now-retired Jon Fitch, catching him in the second round with a heel hook.
Gracie lost a big fight in the 170-pound division earlier this year, dropping a decision to rising contender Jason Jackson.
Lemminger picked up an important win in June, snapping a two-fight losing streak with a second-round stoppage win over Demarques Jackson.
Bout 12: Yoel Romero (13-5) vs. Phil Davis (22-6) (Light Heavyweight)
Competing for the first time since ending his UFC stint, Yoel Romero will fight Phil Davis in the main event of Bellator 266.
Viewers have awaited Romero’s Bellator debut for quite some time now. It was first reported in December that he had signed onto their roster. It was revealed in early 2021 that he was expected to compete in Bellator’s eight-man Light Heavyweight Grand Prix. That plan fell through roughly a week before his first fight, as he failed a pre-fight medical exam.
Now cleared again, Romero is ready for his debut.
Romero departed the UFC in early 2020 at a high level of competition. His last fight for the promotion was at UFC 248, where he lost a unanimous decision to UFC Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya.
The fight was his last of a 13-fight UFC run that started back in 2013.
Davis is being matched against Romero after being eliminated in the early round of the aforementioned 205-pound tournament. Davis had the hardest opponent to start the bracket, facing current champ Vadim Nemkov in April.
He lost to Nemkov, going five rounds for a unanimous decision. The loss snapped a three-fight winning streak that included wins over Lyoto Machida and Karl Albrektsson.