Former Bellator light heavyweight champion Phil ‘Mr. Wonderful’ Davis welcomed former UFC middleweight title challenger Yoel Romero to the Bellator cage by handing the Cuban a decision defeat, then paid tribute to his parents.

Davis never looked in trouble as he controlled most of the three-round main event bout in San Jose, California on Saturday night. But, even though one dissenting judge scored the fight to Romero, there was little doubt over the victor, with Davis earning scores of 30-27, 28-29, 30-26 to keep him right in the mix at the sharp end of the Bellator 205-pound division.

After his victory, Davis said he wanted to make amends in his post-fight interview after missing an opportunity earlier in his career.

“Six years ago, I was making my Bellator debut right here in San Jose, and I absolutely forgot – it’s one of my biggest mistakes ever – I forgot to encourage one of my best friends, training partners, roommates at Penn State.

“He was in the hospital with cancer and I forgot to encourage him. He ended up losing his battle with cancer. Now, I want to rectify that moment by just saying that my mom and dad, who are tremendous and are everything that I wish a mom and dad could be, are just wonderful.

“Last September, two weeks before my fight with Lyoto Machida, my mom calls me and tells me she has malignant breast cancer, so she had to go and get that taken care of. Exactly three days later my father told me he had aggressive prostate cancer. Then two weeks later I had to go and fight ‘The Dragon.’

“I really had to dig deep in a number of ways and I just want to say to my Mom and Dad – by God’s grace they’re still here, my mother’s in the crowd, my father’s at home staring at the tv crying – I love you guys and I cannot do this without you. You guys are amazing.”

Also on the card there were big wins for Neiman Gracie, who scored his first career knockout to defeat Mark Lemminger, and DeAnna Bennett, who defeated No. 5-ranked Alejandra Lara on a night filled with emotion for the flyweight fighter.

“I can’t describe to you how I’m feeling right now. This place means everything to me. I’m born and raised in the Bay Area,” she said.

“I’m so glad to be her fighting in this cage for Bellator with all of these fans here. My dad, he’s with me here. He always knew I was gonna fight here and get my hand raised in this building.

“I wanted that first round finish so bad, but Alejandra, she’s so tough, so tough. You can’t have a good fight with just one person. Both fighters have to be great fighters to put on a good show so half this victory belongs to her for coming into the cage and being a good opponent and being willing to put everything out there just like I did.”

It was also a big night for England’s Saul Rogers, who moved up to lightweight for the first time in his Bellator career and dominated 44-fight veteran Georgi Karakhanyan to earn a shutout win on the scorecards.

“It felt amazing. I’ve been killing myself too long trying to cut down to 145 and now that I’ve moved up, I feel stronger, I feel more dominant,” he said following his win.

“I’m always good at guillotines, but tonight, none of those guillotines (from Karakhanyan) were even close – I wasn’t in danger. But the knee, he hit me with one clean and then the second got through not as clean and I just tried staying protected.

“But you as you’ve seen in the fight, I had a big smile on my face. I love that sh*t, you know what I mean?

“I feel miles better. In other fights, after maybe around two and a half minutes, my hands gassing and I had nothing to carry on then. I controlled him for three rounds and I still feel good to go.

“Any of these fighters that are on the cusp and are still killing themselves, take it from me, move up, be healthier, be happier, have a longer career. It’s much better.”

Earlier in the night, the main card kicked off with a bang as Bellator debutant Ben Parrish announced his arrival in the light heavyweight division by knocking out highly-touted prospect Christian Edwards in just 38 seconds.”It feels good to shut a lot of people up, man that’s all I will say,” said Parrish after his victory.

“I told my boss, Casey, back home, I’ll knock him out with a left hook. What’d I say?

“Don’t get it twisted, everybody will find an excuse to throw salt on me. Hey, that’s not luck, that’s preparation, baby! If I can’t do it with six months of training (and) beat him, nobody was gonna beat him.”

Bellator 266: Main Card Results

  • Phil Davis def. Yoel Romero via split decision (30-27, 28-29, 30-26)
  • Neiman Gracie def. Mark Lemminger via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 1:27
  • DeAnna Bennett def. Alejandra Lara via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-26)
  • Saul Rogers def. Georgi Karakhanyan via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-26)
  • Ben Parrish def. Christian Edwards via knockout (punches) – Round 1, 0:38

Photo Credit: Lucas Noonan / Bellator MMA