Two Bellator MMA cards go down this weekend, each with a heavyweight grand prix semi-final bout headlining the marquee.
This Friday at Mohegan Resort in Uncasville, Connecticut, Ryan Bader meets Matt Mitrione in the main event of Bellator 207. And on Saturday at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York, the legend Fedor Emelianenko takes on Chael Sonnen in the headliner of Bellator 208. It’s a great weekend of fights for fans and also potentially a lucrative opportunity for bettors as odds are available for all main card fights at both events.
Without further ado, here are my Prime Picks from this weekend’s slate of Bellator betting odds.
Ryan Bader (-350)
In the first of two Bellator heavyweight grand prix bouts, I’m going with Bader to beat Mitrione. I’ve just been so incredibly impressed with Bader since he’s come to Bellator and I don’t think you can bet against him right now. He won the Bellator light heavyweight title after beating Phil Davis for a second time, knocked out Linton Vassell in his first title defense and then moved up to heavyweight and only needed 15 second to sleep Muhammed Lawal. Bader is 10-1 in his last 11 fights, with his only loss since 2013 coming against Anthony Johnson at the height of Rumble’s run. Bader was always a big light heavyweight and has not looked undersized at all since moving up.
As a natural heavyweight, Mitrione will have the size advantage in this fight and he obviously has huge knockout power as well, but stylistically, I think this matchup really favors Bader. Mitrione wins a lot of his fights just because he’s a great athlete and is faster than most heavyweights, but in this fight he won’t have those advantages. Mitrione’s poor takedown defense is a huge concern for him, as Bader is a tremendous wrestler. Even though Bader is the smaller fighter, his technique alone should be enough to get Mitrione to the floor, where he’ll have his greatest advantage. Bader should have a good opportunity to finish Mitrione with either strikes or by submission. The odds are -350 for a reason here, as Bader should absolutely be able to defeat Mitrione and move to the finals.
Fedor Emelianenko (-270)
Though a lot of people are calling for the upset, I just don’t see Emelianenko losing to Sonnen. Stylistically, this is a very good fight for “The Last Emperor.” On the feet he’s just so much more powerful and much more technical. We saw in his last outing against Frank Mir that Emelianenko still possesses that power. The Russian’s chin is not what it used to be, but it’s not like Sonnen is some sort of knockout artist. Emelianenko will also be the bigger fighter and that extra weight should help him stop Sonnen’s takedown attempts and keep the fight on the feet. Sonnen is going to look to make this a dirty, grinding fight, but I don’t think that’s a successful gameplan. I can’t see Sonnen surviving the three rounds against the former Pride Fighting Championships champion, and I see “The Last Emperor” advancing to the finals with a knockout.
Anatoly Tokov (+100)
In what is a Pick ‘em fight between Russians, I’m going with Tokov to beat Alexander Shlemenko. At this point, I think you have to fade Shlemenko. He is coming off of a brutal KO loss to Bruno Silva in his last fight and while he did have a competitive bout against Gegard Mousasi, ultimately he did lose that fight. To be fair, he was on a nice win streak before that and argubaly outpointed Mousasi, but his wins were against gatekeeper-types like Paul Bradley and Brandon Halsey. I just don’t feel like he’s the same fighter he was before he tested positive for banned substances. Tokov has a 26-2 record and has looked brilliant in Bellator so far with two finishes. Tokov’s only loss since 2011 was a majority decision defeat to Ramazan Emeev, who is doing really well in the Ultimate Fighting Championship at the moment, and before that fight he had won 17 straight. Tokov is also only 28 so he’s much younger than Shlemenko, who is 34. At these odds I have to go with Tokov to get the win, and I think he has a good chance to finish Shlemenko.
Sergei Kharitonov (+255)
I always like to take an underdog, and this weekend I’m leaning towards Kharitonov beating Roy Nelson. Kharitonov has won four straight and is 9-1 in his last 10. Yes, he did suffer a shocking KO loss to Javy Ayala in his Bellator debut, but he’s bounced back nicely since then and before that was on quite a roll. I’m starting to think that fight was a bit of a fluke for Ayala. Nelson, meanwhile, beat Ayala in his Bellator debut but dropped a decision Mitrione his last time out. Looking at Nelson’s record, he has been extremely inconsistent in recent years and hasn’t won back-to-back fights since 2013. Nelson was once a knockout artist, but his only KO in the last four years came against an ultra chinny Antonio Silva. I just think this is a good matchup for Kharitonov as I don’t see it going to the ground and I think he can win on the feet. Kharitonov is the more technical boxer and if he can avoid a Nelson bomb he could outpoint him or even potentially finish. Kharitonov is a +225 underdog, which I think represents solid betting value as I actually slightly favor him here.
Adam Martin is a mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the sport since 2011. He is currently the lead odds analyst for Sherdog.com as well as the lead staff writer for MMAOddsbreaker.com. Adam is also the co-host of “The Parting Shot Podcast” on iTunes. His favorite fight of all time is Dan Henderson vs. Shogun Rua and he wishes Pride never died. Adam is based out of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and he is a graduate of the University of Toronto and Centennial College. Get in touch with him on Twitter @MMAdamMartin.
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