Bellator is back!
I have to be upfront with you guys. It’s not a lot of big names at all, even for hardcore fans like myself but that doesn’t necessarily mean the betting odds have any less value.
Many times, it’s the opposite, really.
The last time we did a betting preview for this show, there was one of the biggest upsets of the year in all of the mixed martial arts.
Rafael Lovato Jr. defeated Gegard Mousasi in a 5-round tactical battle.
We did pick the multiple-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu champion to win at (+370) and I have to admit that I felt pretty good about it.
Full disclosure, though.
While I knew he is one of the best fighters at 185 pounds in the world, if Gegard’s odds would have been a little less expensive at say (-200) or better, I may have gone with the Dutchman instead.
At (-405), I had to go with value and let it ride.
Elsewhere, Erick Silva and Paul Daley had similar betting odds, and I thought the Brazilian had a better chance than most experts were giving him.
He did take Daley to a decision, which surprised many because both guys come to fight and go out on their respective shields win or lose.
An over bet would have been plus money in all likelihood but wasn’t available.
Conor McGregor protege and fellow Irishman James Gallagher was (-370) and cruised to a win, so we got that one, albeit at an expensive price.
The Bellator banner flies in Thackerville, Oklahoma.
This small town has a population of around 445 residents but boasts the WinStar World Casino which I’m sure at least doubles the town’s population on any given weekend night.
Hopefully, for the Bellator organization and viewers, they can pack the house this week.
Some pundits may laugh at these little known venues, but I think it’s great for the exposure of the sport and like the great Alan Jackson has said many times “It’s alright to be little bitty”.
The co-main event features one of the promotion’s brightest young stars, Penn State Nittany Lion All American wrestler, Ed Ruth.
Ruth’s only loss came to Oklahoma-native and new Bellator Middleweight Champion, Lovato Jr.
I would imagine he will be in attendance sitting front and center with his shiny new gold.
Ruth’s opponent is a former UFC fighter from Japan, Kiichi Kunimoto.
Kiichi is coming off of a couple wins in his native country’s organization of Rizin after winning his first 3 UFC fights only to drop his next 2 when his competition level was raised.
145-pound Champion Julia Budd defends her belt against the undefeated Olga Rubin. Rubin was born in Russia, raised in Israel, and fights out of London. I’m not sure what to think of that. She is a relative unknown and hasn’t beat any notable fighters.
More on the main event in a few.
BetOnline has the odds.
Let’s make some picks on those two fights and another very interesting one as well.
Rafael Carvalho vs Chidi Njokuani
I’ll never forget the first time I saw Chidi “Bang Bang” Njokuani in the gym at Syndicate MMA. At 6’3” tall and walking around over 200 pounds with shoulders broader than Joe Rogan’s mind, I was shook.
Luckily, he didn’t join in on sparring that day and was there only for Norm Turner’s conditioning class which is even more frightening. to be honest.
He fights out of another prominent Las Vegas martial arts gym, though, One Kick’s under One Kick Nick.
Many people don’t know about this place unless they live in Vegas but many world champions and UFC vets have called it home or least trained there when they are in town.
Anderson Silva is one of those guys.
I don’t really have to say anything more to illustrate the legitimacy of Chidi’s training.
Objectively, he is primarily a striker with good but not great defensive wrestling and sub-par submission defense.
That is really the only reason the Brazilian Carvalho is a favorite in this fight.
Many people think he won that fight, actually.
This is a very interesting fight. Both men are exceptionally long.
Chidi has a reach of 79” and Rafael is right behind him at 78”.
As far as how they match up, if Rafael takes him down, he should be able to cruise to a win especially in a 3 round fight.
Chidi will have a significant speed and athleticism advantage, though, as he normally does over most anyone he fights.
I read something just yesterday, though, that made up my mind about this fight.
Carvalho is training at American Top Team now.
This is probably the best gym in all of MMA and all of their guys are on a massive roll lately.
Think Jorge Masvidal with the knee from Hades on Ben Askren.
There are so many more.
Carvalho is the former champ and his only recent losses were to the aforementioned fighters Machida and Mousasi.
The Brazilian will have to be careful here but I think his new team has the bodies to get him ready in sparring, and more importantly a solid game plan to get the job done.
Chidi could sleep him but I think the smart money is on the ATT product.
Ed Ruth vs Kiichi Kunimoto
Okay, I don’t want to waste too much of your time here.
The previous fight is much more interesting with very valuable odds.
Ed Ruth is a 6 to 1 favorite for a reason, though.
Kiichi has fought some good fighters, most notably Neil Magny, albeit in a losing effort.
Ruth’s only defeat as to Nieman Gracie who has submitted every Bellator opponent he’s faced minus his recent defeat to the elite Rory McDonald.
I mentioned earlier that Ruth was an All American wrestler at the Division 1 level.
Well, allow me to clarify.
Ehem, he is a 3-time National Champion at the D-1 level.
He has had plenty of time to digest his lone MMA defeat and Kiichi, while game, is a bone being thrown to him by the Bellator brass who do not want to lose their star to the UFC anytime soon.
Julia Budd vs Olga Rubin
Looking at some tape, I can see Olga has some fairly clean striking, especially for having only 6 professional fights.
There’s some power there too.
Julia Budd, while a bit robotic, is a physical specimen.
Her six-pack rivals TJ Dillashaw on his best day, even with the performance enhancers.
I’m not going to say Julia is on anything but we know Bellator’s testing standards are not nearly on par with those of the UFC.
Budd will likely need to get this fight to the ground to win. The Canadian is a good kickboxer as most of those friendly Canucks are but her top game and superior strength are difficult to match.
She will have a giant edge in the experience department as well. She has been around for a while having fought Ronda Rousey on the current WWE star’s way up through the ranks and has been in there with current double champ and women’s MMA GOAT, Amanda Nunes.
She lost those fights, yes, but they are her only defeats.
Olga isn’t huge for the division. She is tall but doesn’t nearly have the build of her opponent.
Julia defeated Marloes Coenen by TKO ground and pound and she has a very similar style and frame as the Israeli fighter.
I believe Budd grinds out a victory and likely TKO’s or submits her opponent in the 3rd or 4th round.
Alright, the big favorites are rather pricey as you can see, so let’s make this a valuable and exciting night.
If you want just the two big favorites you can bet 30.00 to win 15.00.
I believe Carvalho will get it done, even though I would like to see a guy I have shared some training time with to get the W.
This isn’t a massive event and some of the bigger names are on the undercard, actually, but those odds aren’t available or I would definitely be giving you guys more opportunities to make some cash.
I have hovered around the .500 mark in my recent stint covering these Bellator events.
We have, though, been smashing the UFC as of late to the tune of 19-3 on even money and favorites picks.
Bellator fights are on Friday nights at around 9:00 PM Eastern Time, so make sure you get your wagers in beforehand.
Most of the odds for this promotion look a bit like boxing odds with large favorites so sometimes you have to parlay to “partay”.
That’s alright, let’s get that money and I will have this weekend’s UFC picks coming soon as well.