The UFC absolutely crushed it with UFC 238 delivering just as much action as they promised! It was an unfortunate end to Cowboy Cerrone’s run but we cashed the Fight Doesn’t Go The Distance prop! Valentina won by death touch head kick cashing our Inside The Distance prop! AND Cejudo won in round 3 exactly as predicted for a nice score and if you tailed that Inside the Distance prediction or KO prop you locked up anywhere from +300 to +500 on the newly crowned champ champ!!
The UFC is kicking up its feet this week in preparation for Dana Whites Tuesday Night Contender Series and a 6 event run that includes the return of Jon Jones and women’s champ champ Amanda Nunes! Its weeks like this that we need to be grateful for some market competition because Bellator will give us fight junkies something to bet on in the UFC’s absence.
Bellator 222 is headlined by the continuation of Bellator’s welterweight tournament when Rory MacDonald (20-5-1) faces Neiman Gracie(9-0). Rory is a former UFC contender who is the current Bellator champion and just recently fought Jon Fitch to a draw in April. Rory is always a massive favorite due to being the champion and a former UFC stand out, but he has not been impressive lately. I personally got robbed by some questionable judging at Bellator 220 as I had Fitch +300 and they managed to make the fight a draw which allowed Rory to advance as the current champion.
Rory’s fight name is “The Red King’ but it’s been a long time since he fought that way. In his interviews recently Rory has talked about his faith and how he doesn’t have the desire to hurt people any longer. As a person I am happy to hear that he is facing his demons in his personal life, but as a bettor I hate hearing that he is losing that mean streak. The lines for Bellator aren’t out yet, but I will be fading Rory against all appropriately matched foes. Neiman Gracie is 9-0 and has finished 8 of the 9 by submission. I expect him to be a dog against Rory, but given that Rory isnt overly interested in hurting anybody this may be more of a grappling match that it should be and that will make somebody with an attacking ground game like a Gracie a big opportunity.
The co-main event for Bellator 222 is Lyoto Machida against Chael Sonnen in a match of UFC veterans on their retirement runs. Machida won his last 2 UFC fights before accepting that he was not going to make a UFC title run again and landed in Bellator winning a split decision over Rafael Carvalho. Carvalho is 15-3 and was riding a 15 fight win streak before running into Gegard Mousasi and Lyoto Machida with 12 of those wins coming by KO. He is no joke and Machida managed to beat a talented young fighter in his Bellator debut showing that he is not shot yet.
Chael Sonnen is one of the most notorious fighters in MMA and a fan favorite. He is 30-16-1 and has gone 2-2 in Bellator with wins over long time rival Wanderlei Silva and Rampage Jackson but dropping fights to Tito Ortiz by submission and Fedor Emelianenko by KO in the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix. Chael is a natural 185 pound fighter who is fighting more comfortably these days at 205 and is a powerful wrestler. Machida was once the 205 pound champion and attempted to revitalize his career dropping to 185 towards the end of his UFC run.
Chael has been KOd 6 times and Machida quite obviously still has his power. Machida also is elusive and even though he has slowed down in his age I expect him to have a speed advantage in this fight. Machida is the FAR superior striker here and the question will be if Chael can get the fight to the ground and keep it there. If Chael can grind on Machida and tire him out early then he has a path to victory in a 3 round fight. We will need to wait for the line but I believe that Machida has more gas in the take at this stage of his career than Chael does however if Chael is a sizable underdog he may be worth a shot due to the age of both fighters and the ground advantage. I would look at Chael if he gets around or above +200.