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Bellator's Josh Thomson, John McCarthy list pros and cons of potential Yoel Romero signing

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Bellator commentators Josh Thomson and John McCarthy are somewhat on the fence about a potential Yoel Romero move to Bellator.

The former UFC title challenger was released from the promotion on Friday in a move that caught many by surprise, though UFC president Dana White confirmed more releases are on the way. Romero (13-5 MMA, 9-4 UFC) was in the top five of the UFC’s official middleweight rankings before getting dropped from the roster. He’s been a top contender in the promotion for many years.

And with Romero now free agent, many have been left wondering where he’ll go next, as he’s still one of the most dangerous middleweights today.

“It’s an age thing, it really is,” Thomson said on his and McCarthy’s “Weighing In” podcast on Sunday. “He’s 43 years old. They (UFC) know that he’s not going to be champion.”

McCarthy understands how the age factor could be a problem for Romero, but also pointed out that the “Soldier of God” is arguably the most athletic middleweight today despite his age. McCarthy also questioned Romero’s age, citing that he could be older than 43 because “Cubans lie about their age,” though it’s important to note no such evidence has ever been presented regarding Romero.

“Biologically, he’s 43, but he might be older than that,” McCarthy said. “So he might even be older than 43, but you look at what he really is and you look at his body, and that dude is like 32 years old. He’s a stud. He’s made out of a different material than 99.9 percent of us.”

Romero last fought in March at UFC 248 where he fell short in a title fight against current UFC middlweight champion Israel Adesanya. It was an uneventful bout that ended in a split decision for the champion.

Thomson said Romero is still skilled enough to become champion, but questions his longevity in the sport, which from his perspective is a bad investment for promotors – including Bellator.

“They (UFC) don’t want to get in the business of older fighters,” Thomson said. “Let’s say ‘Izzy’ moves out. He’s not going to fight for a title again. Dana said that was pretty much his last shot the last time he fought. He’s like, ‘Look, I’m not going to do it for you. If you’re 43, you’re my champion, you’re going to fight another year or two and then you’re gone.

“There’s no reason to have you fight again for the championship. You’re 43 years old, so it’s not going to make sense. They’re probably paying him a pretty penny because he is good. I think he was ranked No. 4 when they let him go. … I hope we (Bellator) don’t sign him.”

There’s no denying that Romero is among the oldest fighters competing today in MMA. However, he had a late start in MMA, debuting when he was 32.

Romero has also had some of his best career moments in recent times. With the lack luster title fight against Adesanya aside, Romero did plenty in his previous four bouts.

He had a wild “Fight of the Night” brawl against Paulo Costa at UFC 241, two back-and-forth wars with then champion Robert Whittaker – one in 2017 and another 2018 – and a highlight-reel knockout of Luke Rockhold at UFC 221 in early 2018.

McCarthy said he agrees with Thomson, but the fan in him keeps him from making that a hard “no” for a potential Romero move to Bellator.

“What tells me don’t sign him is 43,” McCarthy explained. “The things that tell me do sign him, I know biologically he’s 43 or plus, but physically he’s a (explicit) monster and can beat anybody any given day.

“So I always like watching a guy. And I’ll tell you, there’s times that I’m so impressed with his performance, and there’s times where I’m disappointed with his performances. His fight against ‘Izzy’ was horrible. So I’m not going to sit here and say I’m homer for Yoel. There’s times he’s fought really well, and there’s times he fought really bad. But he’s a guy you look at and go, ‘Man, I could actually see him against Gegard (Mousasi), and that be a fun fight to watch. But because he’s 43, overall I’d say no.”

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Three things to watch at Bellator 257

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The Bellator Light Heavyweight Grand Prix has some of the most interesting storylines in MMA this month, and the tournament continues Friday at Bellator 257 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.

Bellator light heavyweight champion Vadim Nemkov will defend his title against the always tough Phil Davis in the main event. That bout will double as a first-round matchup in the Grand Prix. The co-main event will be another tournament first-round fight, pitting former UFC contender Corey Anderson against the debuting former ACA champion Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov.

Last week, the Bellator Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix kicked off with former champion Ryan Bader beating legend Lyoto Machida in the first round. After Friday, the tournament semifinals will have taken shape and there might even be a new Bellator champion to boot.

Here’s what’s at stake in those tournament matchups, as well as other important bouts on the card:

Can Nemkov establish himself as one of the truly elite light heavyweights in the world?

The newly crowned Bellator light heavyweight champion has a historically difficult road ahead of him. Nemkov, a protégé of the great Fedor Emelianenko, knocked out Bader last August to win the title. Now, he must defend the belt in the Bellator Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix, beginning with Davis in the first round.

Davis gave Nemkov perhaps the toughest fight of his career in November 2018. Nemkov won a split decision, but many people thought Davis was the true victor. Nemkov is an excellent, versatile striker with stopping power, but anyone who has seen Davis — going back to his UFC days — knows he is an oppressive wrestler who will have a size advantage.

If Nemkov, 28, does get by Davis, it won’t get any easier. He’ll face the winner of a first-round matchup between former UFC title contenders Anthony “Rumble” Johnson and Yoel Romero. That’s quite the challenge for any young champion. But if Nemkov does make it through to win this tournament, there will be no denying that he is among the best light heavyweight fighters in the world — in any organization.

What can we expect from Anderson in the Bellator Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix first round?

In his Bellator debut in November, Anderson expectedly ran through veteran Melvin Manhoef via second-round TKO. It was a clear showcase fight, a way to get the Bellator audience familiar with Anderson and his ability. On top of that, Anderson was coming off a knockout loss to Jan Blachowicz (now the UFC champion), so it doubled as a tuneup to get his confidence back. The level of competition gets steeper now as Anderson will face the unknown member of the Bellator Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix in the first round: Yagshimuradov.

Anderson is an accomplished wrestler who also showed off some knockout power in the UFC. It’s easy to forget that Anderson had won four in a row and was on the cusp of a UFC light heavyweight title shot before the Blachowicz loss. Yagshimuradov, a Turkmenistan native, brings a wrestling pedigree of his own into his Bellator debut. He’s the former ACA light heavyweight champion, and the competition is far from easy in the Russia-based promotion.

This should be a legitimate test for Anderson, and the winner will get Bader in the semifinals.

Which surging veteran will creep closer to a title shot?

The always exciting British knockout artist Paul Daley will finally take on UFC veteran Sabah Homasi at Bellator 257 after the bout previously fell apart twice. Daley has won two straight, while Homasi has won four in a row. Homasi’s coaches at American Top Team are very high on his potential, and a win over Daley would be one of the biggest of his career. The winner would creep closer to a title shot against dominant champion Douglas Lima.

In addition to that matchup, former Bellator women’s featherweight champion Julia Budd will try to win her second in a row after dropping the belt in January 2020 to Cris Cyborg. Budd will face Dayana Silva, who boasts a 9-5 record and will be making her Bellator debut. Budd, still one of the best women’s 145-pound fighters in the world, would be very much in the title mix with a victory.

Bellator 257 also features the promotional debut of Swedish submission specialist Mads Burnell, who has won five in a row after being released by the UFC in 2018. It’ll be a difficult first Bellator fight for Burnell, against The Ultimate Fighter veteran Saul Rogers.

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Bellator 257 — Vadim Nemkov, Paul Daley and Corey Anderson have something to prove – ESPN India

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The Bellator Light Heavyweight Grand Prix has some of the most interesting storylines in MMA this month, and the tournament continues Friday at Bellator 257 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.

Bellator light heavyweight champion Vadim Nemkov will defend his title against the always tough Phil Davis in the main event. That bout will double as a first-round matchup in the Grand Prix. The co-main event will be another tournament first-round fight, pitting former UFC contender Corey Anderson against the debuting former ACA champion Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov.

Last week, the Bellator Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix kicked off with former champion Ryan Bader beating legend Lyoto Machida in the first round. After Friday, the tournament semifinals will have taken shape and there might even be a new Bellator champion to boot.

Here’s what’s at stake in those tournament matchups, as well as other important bouts on the card:

Can Nemkov establish himself as one of the truly elite light heavyweights in the world?

The newly crowned Bellator light heavyweight champion has a historically difficult road ahead of him. Nemkov, a protégé of the great Fedor Emelianenko, knocked out Bader last August to win the title. Now, he must defend the belt in the Bellator Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix, beginning with Davis in the first round.

Davis gave Nemkov perhaps the toughest fight of his career in November 2018. Nemkov won a split decision, but many people thought Davis was the true victor. Nemkov is an excellent, versatile striker with stopping power, but anyone who has seen Davis — going back to his UFC days — knows he is an oppressive wrestler who will have a size advantage.

If Nemkov, 28, does get by Davis, it won’t get any easier. He’ll face the winner of a first-round matchup between former UFC title contenders Anthony “Rumble” Johnson and Yoel Romero. That’s quite the challenge for any young champion. But if Nemkov does make it through to win this tournament, there will be no denying that he is among the best light heavyweight fighters in the world — in any organization.

What can we expect from Anderson in the Bellator Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix first round?

In his Bellator debut in November, Anderson expectedly ran through veteran Melvin Manhoef via second-round TKO. It was a clear showcase fight, a way to get the Bellator audience familiar with Anderson and his ability. On top of that, Anderson was coming off a knockout loss to Jan Blachowicz (now the UFC champion), so it doubled as a tuneup to get his confidence back. The level of competition gets steeper now as Anderson will face the unknown member of the Bellator Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix in the first round: Yagshimuradov.

Anderson is an accomplished wrestler who also showed off some knockout power in the UFC. It’s easy to forget that Anderson had won four in a row and was on the cusp of a UFC light heavyweight title shot before the Blachowicz loss. Yagshimuradov, a Turkmenistan native, brings a wrestling pedigree of his own into his Bellator debut. He’s the former ACA light heavyweight champion, and the competition is far from easy in the Russia-based promotion.

This should be a legitimate test for Anderson, and the winner will get Bader in the semifinals.

Which surging veteran will creep closer to a title shot?

The always exciting British knockout artist Paul Daley will finally take on UFC veteran Sabah Homasi at Bellator 257 after the bout previously fell apart twice. Daley has won two straight, while Homasi has won four in a row. Homasi’s coaches at American Top Team are very high on his potential, and a win over Daley would be one of the biggest of his career. The winner would creep closer to a title shot against dominant champion Douglas Lima.

In addition to that matchup, former Bellator women’s featherweight champion Julia Budd will try to win her second in a row after dropping the belt in January 2020 to Cris Cyborg. Budd will face Dayana Silva, who boasts a 9-5 record and will be making her Bellator debut. Budd, still one of the best women’s 145-pound fighters in the world, would be very much in the title mix with a victory.

Bellator 257 also features the promotional debut of Swedish submission specialist Mads Burnell, who has won five in a row after being released by the UFC in 2018. It’ll be a difficult first Bellator fight for Burnell, against The Ultimate Fighter veteran Saul Rogers.

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Bellator Performance Based Fighter Rankings: Featherweights: Apr 14/21

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emmanuel sanchez

Apr 28, 2018; Rosemont, IL, USA; Emmanuel Sanchez (red gloves) beats Sam Sicilia (blue gloves) during Bellator 198 at Allstate Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dave Mandel-USA TODAY Sports

There is constant debate about fighter rankings, which are normally based on voting from a panel of journalists.  Such is the case with something as subjective as voting – it’s totally based on a voter’s opinion, and biases are bound to seep through, whether intentional or no.  So to try to put a fresh, objective, data-driven spin on rankings, The MMA Manifesto has come up with a performance based ranking system, solely based on how a fighter has performed in the cage, this time for Bellator.  We’ll roll out a new weight class every Wednesday.  Next up: The Bantamweights.

*stipulations: 1) any fighter currently suspended or 2) inactive for at least 12 months (without an upcoming fight scheduled) are excluded from the rankings

  • Scoring based on a fighter’s past 10 Bellator performances (we use a five-year time limit, so if they have fought less than 10 times in the past five years, only the fights within that time frame are counted. For fighters who have also fought in the UFC during this time, those performances were counted also)
  • Points based on a fighter’s opponent’s Bellator & UFC win/loss record (ie strength of schedule – the more successful a vanquished opponent is, the more points awarded), extra points given for finishes, extra points given for title fight wins.  
  • Points are weighed so most recent fights are worth more (ie most recent fight counts the most, 10th most recent fight the least)
  • No points awarded for a loss
Stats Last Bell Total
Rank Rank Rank
1 1 1 Patricio ‘Pitbull’ Freire 1005
2 3 2 A.J. McKee 344.5
3 2 Darrion Caldwell 305.5
4 4 3 Emmanuel Sanchez 260.5
5 5 8 Jay-Jay Wilson 190.5
6 5 7 Aaron Pico 189.5
7 7 4 Adam Borics 173.5
8 8 Aiden Lee 145
9 10 Weber Almeida 125
10 9 Henry Corrales 96
11 16 Cody Law 95
11 13 5 Pedro Carvalho 95
13 17 Lucas Brennan 86
14 11 10 Tywan Claxton 80.5
15 15 Brian Moore 71.5
16 12 6 Daniel Weichel 70.5
17 19 Brandon Girtz 68
18 20 Ciaran Clarke 67
19 20 Richie Smullen 65
20 NR 11 Mads Burnell 58
20 22 Saul Rogers 58
22 25 Chris Hatley 54
23 18 9 Jeremy Kennedy 52
24 26 Asael Adjoudj 50
25 28 Dominique Wooding 40
26 29 Matt Bessette 25
27 30 Jeremy Petley 22
28 31 Kevin Croom 20
29 32 Andrew Fisher 10
30 33 Andrew Salas 9
30 33 Harry Hardwick 9
30 33 John de Jesus 9
33 36 Arbi Mezhidov 0
33 36 Ashleigh Grimshaw 0
33 36 Erick Sanchez 0
33 36 Simone D’Anna 0
33 36 Vladyslav Parubchenko 0

Check back next Wednesday for our Women’s Featherweight rankings 

Bellator Performance Based Rankings

Heavyweights
Light Heavyweights
Middleweights
Welterweights
Lightweights
Bantamweights
Women’s Featherweights
Women’s Flyweights
Pound for Pound

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