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Bellator 228 Featherweight Grand Prix: Odds, Picks, and Predictions

Now, this is a fight card!

Bravo Bellator!

The main event is a rematch from five and a half years ago between two legends of the sport.

The rest of the main card is a Featherweight Grand Prix tournament.

The current champ is fighting and in the tournament and the belt is on the line!

Wait, what?

Normally, a tournament would be to determine a #1 contender. As a fan, I don’t agree with everything Bellator does or how they go about their business but this is cool.

Throughout the 16-man tournament, the belt will be on the line and each one of those fights will be scheduled for five 5 minute rounds.

There isn’t any favorable seeding in these matchups either as the champion is just (-140) right now.

One of the Featherweight Grand Prix participants, AJ McKee, who is a complete savage, will share the fight card with his father!

I know I just said it but, wait what?

Yes, undefeated 14-0 AJ will be fighting on the same night in the same arena in the same cage as his dad!

Antonio “Mandingo” McKee, is 49, count’em 49-years-old.

The Las Vegas native has been fighting in mixed martial arts since October of 1999 amassing a record of 29-6-2.

Check out this quick video of the open workouts featuring the duo.

It will be a home city fight for the father/son combo at the Forum.

“Inglewood always up to no good!”

Can you tell I’m hyped for the best Bellator card in recent memory?

Just a few weeks ago, we had Matt Mitrione vs Sergei Kharitonov and that was it really for “star” power.

We aren’t short on betting options either as we will be picking all 5 fights on the main card.

BetOnline has the odds.

Let’s roll.

A.J. Mckee (-465) vs Georgi Karakhanyan (+365)

Wow, the 14-0 McKee is a massive favorite here.

Is it going to be that easy?

Well, Georgi has a ton of experience at 28-9-1 with 13 of those fights split up between two different stints with Bellator Fighting Championships.

You know, he’s been a bit of a gatekeeper who just hasn’t been able to get the W when he’s in there with top-five fighters.

Joe Warren, Patricio Pitbull, Daniel Weichel, Pat Curran, Emmanuel Sanchez twice, and Henry Corrales all defeated the man from Moscow.

He handed Lance Palmer his first loss in 2013 and retired Din Thomas that same year.

AJ is 14-0 and yet to be challenged.

His last fight was his toughest test to date opposite Pat Curran, who is a great fighter but has definitely got on his way down the hill.

There are no easy fights in this tournament but I can’t pick against AJ in this situation.

I’m not saying there won’t be any upsets on the main card. I just don’t think this will be one of them.

The Bet
MCKEE TO WIN
-465

Daniel Weichel (-180) vs Saul Rogers (+155)

The German Weichel will be 35-years-old in a couple of months and has 50 professional MMA fights to his name.

39-11 is pretty respectable too. Let’s see who beat him.

The current 145-pound champ Patricio Pitbull defeated him twice, most recently by a split decision, though.

He also lost his last fight dropping him to 0 for his last 2 opposite Goiti Yamauchi in another split decision.

Pitbull most impressive win is without a doubt against Emmanuel Sanchez who won on his side of the tournament bracket a few weeks ago.

Sanchez is my favorite to win the whole thing!

How do these two match up?

Weichel is a technician who relies on this to make up for the fact that he is not the most athletic or explosive fighter.

Saul Rogers, though…very explosive and athletic.

Rogers is also the better wrestler and submission artist.

A lot of people don’t know about Saul yet, but y’all bout to find out.

The Bet
ROGERS TO WIN
+155

Darrion Caldwell (-155) vs Henry Corrales (+135)

The underdog is on a five-fight win streak while the favorite has dropped two in a row with the latter coming up a weight class.

So, what’s up with these odds?

Well, I believe Caldwell performs better at featherweight. He was a skeleton at 135. He reminded of TJ Dillashaw when he went down to 125 to fight the current UFC champ and king of cringe, Henry Cejudo.

Wiry is a good thing but there’s a such thing as too much or too little, I should say.

Darrion Caldwell vs Kyoji Horiguchi Back in Bellator 222

Both of Caldwell’s losses were to Horiguchi who Jorge Masvidal recently praised as “the best fighter at American Top Team”.

Henry won’t be much bigger than Darrion in this fight and I’m going to have to go with the better wrestler in just a 3-round fight.

Caldwell knows what he’s up against as he has already called his opponent “A killer”.

Darrion may lay and pray with the best of ‘em but as a betting man, that’s just fine with me.

All American wrestling for the win.

The Bet
CALDWELL TO WIN
-155

Gegard Mousasi (-300) vs Lyoto Machida (+250)

Mous! You’re back!

After his shocking defeat to Rafael Lovato Jr (Called it!) a few months where he lost his title and a chunk of his ego as well, Gegard returns to the cage to right a wrong from 5 years ago.

Lyoto Machida defeated the Dutch star in an incredible fight between two hall of famers.

Lyoto’s win was in his home country of Brazil but it was a unanimous decision.

I’m not sure what the oddsmakers are thinking here. “The Dragon” looked incredible in his last fight when he dropped Chael Sonnen with several flying knees.

I know Sonnen doesn’t always show up or fight that hard when he starts to lose, but Machida was ALL OVER him!

People are pointing out that Machida is older and while this is true, it’s not like Gegard doesn’t have a significant amount of mileage on his efficient V-8.

I think this fight could go either way. 5 wins each if they fought 10 times.

That means Lyoto clearly holds the value.

The Bet
MACHIDA TO WIN
+250

Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (-140) vs Juan Archuleta (+120)

“The Spaniard” has won 17 straight fights. Juan Archuleta is another fighter, like Saul Rogers, who is flying under the radar of some fans but not for long…

Watching these two face off, it was quite cordial but Juan has a watermelon sitting on his shoulders.

Gracious!

The Spaniard is the significantly bigger man with a 4-inch reach advantage.

Hmmm..

What about Patricio’s last four fights, though?

In his last four, he has wins over Strauss, Sanchez, Weichel, and he became the double champ by going up to 155 and defeating Michael Chandler.

He seems like great money at just (-140) but Juan has the sauce to beat him.

The Bet
ARCHULETA TO WIN
+120

In Conclusion

Well, there you go, team.

As a rule, I try to stay away from underdogs on Bellator cards as they are usually nothing more than fodder for the favorites being pushed by the promotion.

This week is a little different, though, with the Featherweight Grand Prix going on. All of these guys have power!

I don’t know what they are feeding these Featherweights over in Bellator but I don’t remember seeing so many high-level 145-pound fighters get put straight to sleep from one shot.

For that reason as well as a couple of others, I am going with some underdogs to get it done on Saturday night in Los Angeles.

Please Note:

Caldwell is going up in weight but I think that will help his strength, power, and he will still be the bigger man in this contest.

Undefeated AJ McKee will be tested but I believe he will pass. Georgi Karakhanyan will not be an easy out but McKee is a prototype that will impose his will.

Daniel Weichel is too well-rounded for Saul Rogers.

But wait, you said…

Yes. I picked the underdog Saul to win.

“Too well-rounded” can be a detriment. Saul’s explosion, power, strength, and wrestling ability is great and will likely prove too much over a three-round fight against a guy who is pretty good at everything.

Lyoto Machida and Gegard Mousasi is really tough to predict. I would probably cap this one at (-135) for Gegard and (+115) for “The Dragon”.

The odds are 1 to 3 for Mous and 2.5 to 1 for Lyoto. I’m taking the value.

As for the main event, it won’t be the first time that Patricio is out-sized but it might be one of the only times he’s fought a man with a heavy row of knuckles than himself.

To go along with that, Juan Archuleta head so big, he has to step into his shirts.

If these two trade and in all likelihood they will, my money is on “The Spaniard”.

Two Bellators in two days, team!

Saturday’s card is the good one!

4 world-class matchups in the Featherweight Grand Prix!?

A rematch of epic proportions with title implications in two different weight classes!?

A 49-year-old father and his undefeated son fighting on the same card!?

Yes, please!

Mike Pruitt / author

Mike has been covering sports professionally since 2017 but on the amateur scene for 25 years since when he was 12. Before the internet changed the world, he would keep detailed statistical box scores of NFL and NBA contests, write recaps, and voluntarily commentate games and fights alone in his room. Mike's military experience, Bachelors Degree, and employment thereafter were always rooted in engineering, science, and teaching. Now he enjoys being able to express himself through writing about football, golf, and car racing among other sports but most of all fighting as his life has been rooted in mixed martial arts including competing and teaching for the past 15 years.

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