The Bellator 266 preliminary card features nine fights with a start time of 7pm ET via Bellator’s streaming platforms.
Jesse Delgado vs. Joshua Dillon
Jesse Delgado (-330)
Joshua Dillon (+255)
Dillon comes into this contest with two fights under his belt and both coming in 2021. His first pro fight was in February and he won via 1st round submission. His second fight came in May, but he lost via 1st round KO.
This will be Dillon’s debut for Bellator as his first two fights were with smaller promotions. He’s never gone past the first round of a fight.
Jesse Delgado will also make his Bellator debut this weekend. He’s a former two-time National Champion wrestler at Illinois in 2013 and 2014. This will be his first pro fight and there’s a lot of hope that he can progress into a solid fighter for the promotion.
Bellator is known for finding wrestlers like this and slowly developing them into contenders. This fight is all about giving Delgado that first big step. And, it should happen because he’s twice the athlete as his opponent.
Take Delgado to win via TKO.
Jesse Delgado vs. Joshua Dillon –Jesse Delgado (-330)
Santos is a massive betting favorite in his first pro fight. As an amateur, EDLS showed some impressive striking skills with three TKO/KO wins in four fights. It’s these skills that have him listed as such a large favorite.
Adams has two pro fights under his belt with both coming in Bellator. Unfortunately, he’s yet to taste victory in his pro career as he scored a majority draw in his first fight and then suffered a TKO defeat in his second bout. Adams hasn’t fought since September 2019.
This bout is set up nicely for Santos to make a statement in his pro debut. He has a winnable fight and I expect him to score a TKO/KO in this contest.
De Los Santos vs. Jonathan Adams –De Los Santos (-700)
Eddie Abasolo vs. Art Hernandez
Eddie Abasolo (-220)
Art Hernandez (+180)
Nicknamed “Warhorse,” Art Hernandez has a 4-4 record in MMA but enters this contest having lost three in a row including two via knockout. He hasn’t competed since December 2019. This will also be his Bellator debut.
Three of his four pro wins have come via stoppage with two by way of submission. He’s 1-2 when going the distance.
Eddie Abasolo is making his pro MMA debut and it happens to be with Bellator. He’s a three time world Muay Thai champion having competed as a pro for the last decade. This weekend’s contest will also be near his hometown as he grew up in the Bay Area.
“I wouldn’t say it’s an easy transition but it’s just the right amount of different. You have some growing pains and then things start to click. I’ve had a lot of help with some of the nuances of the sport. I just have to figure out his rhythm and then find my rhythm,” he said. “They say once you find your rhythm you’re hard to stop. I prefer fighting standing up but if I have to go to the ground, I’m prepared for that, too.”
There’s no reason to think that the outcome for this fight will be anything other than Abasolo picking up a TKO/KO win. Half of Hernandez’s losses have come via knockout and he’s not nearly the striker as Abasolo is.
Eddie Abasolo vs. Art Hernandez –Eddie Abasolo (-220)
Rhalan Gracie vs. Shane Keefe
Rhalan Gracie (+155)
Shane Keefe (-185)
Gracie comes in as the underdog in this fight despite holding the last name of MMA royalty. He is 0-2 in his career with a KO defeat and a split decision loss. However, those fights came in 2006 and 2007.
Since then, he’s gone on to become a successful black belt instructor in jiu-jitsu also winning many tournaments in this highly respected discipline.
Keefe is a sizable favorite with one pro fight on his resume. That bout came in late February in Mexico where he beat his opponent via KO in 68 seconds.
Keefe has the striking skills to end this fight if it stays upright. However, I don’t see anyone named Gracie willingly standing and striking for 15 minutes.
Instead, I see Rhalan dragging this fight to the mat where he will twist up Keefe until he locks in a submission hold for the victory.
Rhalan Gracie vs. Shane Keefe –Rhalan Gracie (+155)
Robert Seronio III vs. Erin Hunter
Robert Seronio III (-600)
Erin Hunter (+400)
This fight will see two combatants making their professional debuts. Yet, the oddsmakers love Seronio in this one as he’s one of the largest betting favorites for the entire Bellator 266 event.
Erin Hunter was 3-3 as an amateur fighter with his last bout coming in February 2020. He lost his last two bouts both via decision. Hunter had five fights in 2018 then one in 2020 and hasn’t competed since. All three of his losses were via decision.
Seronio went 4-0 as an amateur with his last fight coming in February 2020. He has a decent blend of striking and grappling skills as he was wrestling in college along with training in BJJ.
I see this bout going the full 15 minutes where Seronio will cruise to a unanimous decision victory.
Robert Seronio III vs. Erin Hunter –Robert Seronio III (-600)
Socrates Hernandez vs. Pedro Juarez
Socrates Hernandez (+170)
Pedro Juarez (-210)
This bout will also feature two combatants making their pro debuts in MMA and for Bellator. The winner will stick around longer with the promotion.
Hernandez’s first amateur MMA fight came in May 2019 where he lost via decision. He’s 2-2 in his amateur career with both losses coming via unanimous decision. His last bout was in February 2020 and he won via 1st round TKO/KO in 73 seconds.
Three of his four pro bouts went the distance.
Pedro Juarez has a 3-1 record as an amateur. He started out in 2018 and lost via decision, but has gone on to win three straight bouts since then. Like his opponent, Juarez has seen three of his four pro bouts also go the distance.
These two have combined to go the distance in six of their eight total fights. So, let’s stick with that trend and take this bout to go the full 15 minutes where Juarez will pick up the decision victory.
Socrates Hernandez vs. Pedro Juarez –Pedro Juarez (-210)
Abraham Vaesau vs. Albert Gonzales
Abraham Vaesau (-150)
Albert Gonzales (+120)
After five preliminary bouts featuring fighters making their pro debuts, we finally have a contest where both men have multiple pro fights on their resumes.
Gonzales comes into this matchup as the underdog with a .500 record and two fights in Bellator. He joined the promotion two years ago and lost in his debut via TKO due to a leg injury. Albert bounced back in his second fight which took place 11 months ago and won via 2nd round TKO.
Three of his four pro bouts have ended via TKO.
Vaesau has had two stints with Bellator in his career. His second pro bout came with the promotion where he won via 1st round TKO in February 2017. However, he wouldn’t fight again for the promotion until April 2019 where he also won via 1st round TKO.
Vaesau’s most recent fight was in September 2019 where he lost via 3rd round submission to Renato Valente Alves. He’s now 2-1 with Bellator, but hasn’t competed in two years.
All five of his pro wins have come via TKO/KO. He’s never gone the distance in a pro fight and has two submission losses.
This bout will come down to whichever fighter has the better striking skills. I don’t see either man trying to turn this into a grappling contest. With that said, I’m going to side with the sportsbooks by taking Vaesau to win via TKO.
Abraham Vaesau vs. Albert Gonzales –Abraham Vaesau (-150)
Khalid Murtazaliev vs. Anthony Adams
Khalid Murtazaliev (-300)
Anthony Adams (+240)
Anthony Adams started off his pro career going 7-0 in the SCL promotion. That brought him to DWCS in July 2018 where he lost via split decision.
Adams moved on to LFA in 2019 and scored a 1st round TKO win over Josh Caravan. The victory earned him a second shot on DWCS. Unfortunately, he ran into Impa Kasanganay and lost via unanimous decision.
Bellator decided to bring Adams in for a try as he does have some decent skills. Seven of his eight pro wins have come via decision. Both of his losses have also come via decision.
🇷🇺 Khalid Murtazaliev has lost just once since 2015.
The Russian Middleweight is looking to continue his hot streak at #Bellator266, where he takes on Anthony Adams.
Murtazaliev has had a lengthy career to date with numerous fights in M-1, EFN and FNG. A 13-2 record brought him to the UFC in 2018 where he beat CB Dollaway via 2nd round TKO.
Unfortunately, he ended up being suspended for two years due to steroids and his brief stint with the UFC ended. So, Khalid moved on to Bellator where he debuted for the promotion in April and beat Fabio Aguiar via unanimous decision.
13 of his 15 pro wins have come via TKO/KO. He’s 2-1 when going the distance.
Since Adams has never been stopped in his career, and nine of his 10 pro fights have gone the distance, I’m taking this bout to go the full 15 minutes. However, Murtazaliev will win this contest via unanimous decision.
Murtazaliev vs. Anthony Adams –Murtazaliev (-300)
Grant Neal vs. Alex Polizzi
Grant Neal (-210)
Alex Polizzi (+170)
Polizzi started off his career going 6-0 including a few wins in the LFA. He debuted with Bellator one year ago and beat Rafael Carvalho via unanimous decision. However, he came out on the wrong side of a decision in his second bout where he lost to Julius Anglickas.
Standing at 1-1, Alex returned to the Bellator cage three months ago and defeated Gustavo Trujillo via 1st round submission.
Seven of his eight pro wins have come via stoppage with four by way of submission. He’s 1-1 when going the distance.
Neal remains unbeaten in his career with five of his six pro bouts coming in Bellator. He debut with the promotion 22 months ago and has quickly racked up five wins since then. Neal’s most recent bout came in May 2021 where he beat Tyree Fortune via 1st round submission.
Four of his six pro wins have come via stoppage with three by way of submission. He’s 2-0 when going the distance.
This is going to be an exciting fight with two explosive fighters. With that said, I’m taking Neal in this contest. I believe he’s the better fighter between the two and should be able to score the win.
Polizzi has never been stopped in his career and I don’t see that happening now. Take Neal to win via decision.
Grant Neal vs. Alex Polizzi –Grant Neal (-210)
Bellator 266 Main Card
The main card consists of five fights and will be live on Showtime beginning at 10pm ET.
Christian Edwards vs. Ben Parrish
Christian Edwards (-700)
Ben Parrish (+450)
The opening bout of the main card for Bellator 266 is tied for the largest disparity in MMA etting odds as Edwards is a monster favorite in this matchup.
Parrish has spent his entire career in SFC where he’s gone 4-1 since debuting as a pro five years ago. However, he hasn’t competed since November 2019 where he lost via TKO due to a leg injury. Although it’s ruled a TKO, he hasn’t truly been knocked out.
All four of his pro wins have come via submission.
Edwards has spent his entire two year pro career with Bellator and has quickly gone 5-0 in the span. Three of those five wins have come via stoppage with two by way of TKO/KO. His most recent fight came three months ago where he beat Simon Biyong via decision.
Edwards has climbed up into the rankings where he sits 8th in the light heavyweight division. His goal is to get a ranked opponent in his next fight so that he can continue towards the top of the division and score a title shot:
“After this fight I’ll be 6-0 all under Bellator, and the guys I’ve fought aren’t like chumps or anything, they’re not like scrubs, they’re not like the Top 10 guys. I am elite, so I want to fight someone else elite. I’ll just wait until they give me someone who’s elite; in the Top 10.”
This is classic Bellator booking where they spoon feed a homegrown talent. Yes, Parrish is a decent challenge but not enough of a challenge to where anyone gives him a chance at winning.
Take Edwards to score another victory. The only question is whether or not he can find the stoppage.
Christian Edwards vs. Ben Parrish –Christian Edwards (-700)
Georgi Karakhanyan vs. Saul Rogers
Georgi Karakhanyan (-105)
Saul Rogers (-125)
This bout was originally scheduled for Adam Piccolotti to take on Saul Rogers. However, Piccolotti was forced out of the fight and Georgi Karakhanyan stepped in on about 10 days’ notice.
Georgi Karakhanyan last competed on July 31st and beat Kiefer Crosbie via 1st round submission. It was his second win in a row and he’s now 3-1 in his last four fights and 9-9 with Bellator.
23 of his 31 pro wins have come via stoppage with 16 by way of submission. He’s 8-8-1 when going the distance.
This will be the last fight on his Bellator contract and Karakhanyan is looking to get paid on his next MMA deal:
“Scott Coker and everyone with Bellator has been really cool with me. This is my 19th fight actually with Bellator. Me asking to get double what I’m making right now means nothing. I know they pay big money to a lot of fighters, but I wouldn’t mind shopping around to see what’s going on too.”
Rogers joined Bellator in the spring of 2019 where he won his debut fight via decision over Aiden Lee. Unfortunately, he’s gone 1-2 since then with losses to Daniel Weichel via decision and to Mads Burnell via 2nd round submission.
10 of his 14 pro wins have come via stoppage with nine by way of submission. He’s 4-1 when going the distance.
Although he’s taken this fight on short notice, I like Karakhanyan in this one. I believe he has more of a complete skillset than his opponent and can handle whatever Rogers tries to do.
I see this bout eventually ending up on the mat where Karakhanyan wins via submission.
Georgi Karakhanyan vs. Saul Rogers –Georgi Karakhanyan (-105)
Alejandra Lara vs. DeAnna Bennett
Alejandra Lara (-175)
DeAnna Bennett (+145)
After a lengthy career in Invicta FC, where she went 6-5, Bennett made here way to Bellator one year ago. Unfortunately, she was matched up against the veteran Liz Carmouche and ended up losing via submission in the third round.
That was her third straight defeat spanning across two promotions. She’s also 1-4 over her last five fights.
Four of her six pro wins have come via stoppage with two apiece for TKO/KO and submission. She’s 6-4-1 when going the distance.
Lara started off her MMA career going 6-1 and then ended up with Bellator in December 2017 where she won via 3rd round submission. However, she dropped her next two fights before putting together a two fight winning streak.
Then Lara sat out for roughly 16 months before returning to the cage in April 2021. Unfortunately, she ended up losing via split decision to Kana Watanabe.
Lara stated that she ran out of gas and felt weak half way through the fight. She blames it on cutting weight. However, Alejandra learned from that experience and is determined to enter this fight more mature and focused:
“My goal right now is to keep my mind in (check). Last time, I felt so disconnected. I know I have to hold my horses. Sometimes, it’s about patience and choosing the punches and everything I’m doing. That’s what I’m planning for this fight – to be more mature and focused.”
Seven of her nine pro wins have come via stoppage with four by way of TKO/KO. She’s 2-3 when going the distance.
I see this bout being a “get right” fight for Lara. Bennett is a credible foe, but one that Lara should beat. The victory will get her back into the win column, back on track, and regain some traction in the flyweight rankings where she currently sits 5th.
Take Lara to win via unanimous decision. Three of her last four bouts have gone the distance including two in a row. Bennett has gone the distance in seven of her last nine pro fights.
Alejandra Lara vs. DeAnna Bennett –Alejandra Lara (-175)
Neiman Gracie vs. Mark Lemminger
Neiman Gracie (-275)
Mark Lemminger (+215)
Lemminger started off his career 10-1 and ended up on the doorsteps of Bellator in the summer of 2020. He made his debut in July 2020 and beat Jake Smith via 2nd round TKO. Unfortunately, he ran into Yaroslav Amosov and lost via TKO in the 1st round due to doctor stoppage.
His 3rd fight took place in November 2020 and he lost via decision to Jaleel Willis. Lemminger snapped the two fight losing streak three months ago when he defeated Demarques Jackson via 2nd round TKO to improve to 2-2 in Bellator.
Nine of his 12 pro wins have come via stoppage with six by way of TKO/KO. He’s 3-1 when going the distance.
Lemminger made the following comments about how he thinks the fight will go:
“Honestly I feel comfortable no matter where the fight goes. We have pretty high level grapplers at my gym. I think I’m a little better of a grappler than I’ve shown in my fights. Obviously I’m going to try to beat him up on the feet, but if it goes to the mat I’m not going to be a fish out of water, I’m going to be pretty comfortable there as well.”
Gracie is the #4 ranked welterweight and has been with Bellator since early 2015. He started off his career going 9-0 including 7-0 in Bellator before suffering his first loss which came against Rory MacDonald via unanimous decision in June 2019.
However, Gracie bounced back with a 2nd round submission over Jon Fitch in September 2020. His most recent fight came in April where he lost via decision to Jason Jackson.
Nine of his 10 pro wins have come via submission. He’s 1-2 when going the distance.
Gracie talked about his goals for after this fight and how he’s hoping a win will get him one step closer to a world title shot:
“Motivation is always on the rise. My goal is to reach the belt. My last fight was controversial. I think I won, so I’m close to the belt. Depending on how this fight goes, if I finish in a good way, I think I can fight for the belt. My goal will be to finish. Last time, I left it in the hands of the judges and it didn’t work. My goal is always to finish.”
I like Gracie as I think he can still evolve as a fighter especially in the striking department. I don’t see Lemminger being able to prevent the takedown attempts.
Eventually, Gracie will get the takedown and lock in a submission for the win.
Neiman Gracie vs. Mark Lemminger –Neiman Gracie (-275)
Yoel Romero vs. Phil Davis
Yoel Romero (-115)
Phil Davis (-115)
The main event of the night pits the #3 light heavyweight Phil Davis against the Yoel Romero who is making his long awaited Bellator debut.
Since coming to Bellator six years ago, Davis has gone 9-3 in the promotion. He lost to Bader in 2017, which was the second time he’s lost to Ryan in his career. The first came in 2015 in the UFC which was his last fight for the promotion.
Davis’ other two losses in Bellator were against the current light heavyweight champion Vadim Nemkov. The first loss came in November 2018 via split decision and the second came in his most recent bout which was April 2021 in the grand prix.
Davis lost that via unanimous decision which also snapped a three fight winning streak. This will be his 13th light heavyweight fight and the most in Bellator history. His nine LH wins are tied for the most in the promotion.
11 of his 22 pro wins have come via stoppage with six by way of TKO/KO. He’s 11-6 when going the distance.
Davis made the following predictions about the upcoming main event clash with Romero according to LowKickMMa:
“I don’t think this fight is going to go three rounds. Expect fireworks and look for this to be a one-round fight. It doesn’t have the making of a long war. There are challenges in facing him, but I’m more focused on the different ways that I can open up and I like the fact that he can have two different styles.”
Romero started off his UFC tenure going 8-0. Then he suffered his first octagon loss via decision to Robert Whittaker. After a win over Luke Rockhold in February 2018, he would go on to lose three straight fights to close out his time with the UFC. All three losses were via decision.
11 of his 13 pro wins have come via TKO/KO. He’s 2-4 when going the distance.
Davis predicts this fight to end in the opening round, but I don’t see it happening. Davis doesn’t have the striking acumen and power that Adesanya, Costa and Whittaker have.
Romero went the distance with all three of them including twice against Whittaker. In fact, three of the four bouts against that trio went the full five rounds.
Romero is a buzzsaw in the cage. However, he hasn’t fought since March 2020 and, at age 44, I have to wonder if he’s still an elite level fighter.
This is a compelling matchup that could go either way. With that said, I’m taking Romero to win based on emotions and not an informed decision. I’ve always enjoyed his effort in the cage and I’m rooting for Yoel to win.
Yoel Romero vs. Phil Davis –Yoel Romero (-115)
As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at GamblingSites.org to become the self-professed "King of the Blog" in his first year with the site. ...
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