With a business model of signing ex-UFC fighters, free reign on sponsorships and, well pretty much doing everything the UFC doesn’t, Bellator appear to be gaining little ground on their counterparts. To cement their position they have teamed with Glory for a night of Kickboxing and MMA in an even that some are almost hailing as the rebirth of Pride. As always, 5Dimes will be supplying the odds so let’s see if there is some money to be made. Odds on Bellator events are not great so sharp eyes will spot a theme.
Lawal v Vassell:
Kicking off the first fight in a four-man, one night tournament to determine the next challenger at 205lbs is Strikeforce veteran ‘King Mo’ Lawal. Lawal has stuttered in Bellator when presented with higher level opponents while looking imperious against the lower tier. In his last fight he stepped up to Heavyweight to take on, and defeat, UFC veteran Heavyweight Cheick Kongo. That win cemented Lawal’s place in the tournament where he hopes to end his career championship drought.
Linton Vassell is the one of three British fighters on the card and arguably the least known of the lot. In his Bellator career he is 4-1 with the sole loss coming to Emmanuel Newton so it’s hard to argue that he hasn’t earned his place in the tournament. With McGeary pulling up trees big things are expected of Vassell and this is the biggest stage he is ever likely to step on to prove himself.
While Vassell has age and size on his side it’s almost impossible to pick against King Mo. From a numbers perspective they are identical at 15-4 but that doesn’t tell the full story. Lawal has fought at a higher level for longer and this type of event won’t phase him, against Kongo he proved he can outwrestle the bigger man and I expect a repetition of the same on Saturday night.
Recommendation: Muhammed Lawal -3 units at -365 (2/7) @ 5Dimes
Davis v Newton:
When Phil Davis left the UFC to make his name at Bellator I think he expected the reaction to be a lot bigger than it was. Sure, it was a moderate surprise but not so much of a shock. After all, he lost to Ryan Bader and Anthony Johnson and he took a contentious decision over Lyoto Machida. The win over Glover Teixeira being the only thing that kept him anywhere near the top 5. This represents his most realistic opportunity to finally secure gold and prove the naysayers (of which I am one) wrong. For a debut fight, he has drawn tough.
Emmanuel Newton was a relative unknown until hitting Muhammad ‘King Mo’ Lawal with a spinning backfist and putting him to sleep. It was supposed to be a gimme for a then debuting Lawal and Newton has turned the tables on a number of occasions since, winning the 205lb belt being just one example.
With relatively long and varied careers for both fighters something simply has to give as neither have ever lost back to back fights, and has both lost last time out then that record breaks on Saturday night. For Newton, his best chance of a win is to outwork Davis en route to a decision, for Davis to win I think he needs to lock on the patented ‘Wonderful Choke’, a modified Anaconda Choke that he has previously used to good effect. I am taking the ‘overs’ in this one at -330 as its unlikely we’ll see an early finish and those odds are still better than Davis at -350 which doesn’t represent his true position.
Recommendation: Over 1.5 Rounds – 3 units at -330 (1/3) @ 5Dimes
McGeary v Ortiz:
British fighter Liam McGeary will be making the first defence of the belt that he took via a comfortable decision from Emmanuel Newton. In a card that was billed as ‘British Invasion’ McGeary walked away with the ultimate prize and positioned himself as the highest currently ranked English fighter in MMA, certainly in terms of holding a belt of significance. With a perfect 10-0 record as a professional he has yet to be truly tested and his 9 finishes from 10 fights puts him in ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ territory. The only time he has been taken the distance was against Newton, prior to that he did most of his work in the first round.
There is little to be said about Tito Ortiz that even a casual reader wouldn’t already know. In a distinguished career he is recognised as a UFC veteran, MMA legend, one-time TNA wrestler and UFC Hall of Famer. Once the most feared man in the 205lb division his star has fallen as fast as his age has risen. At 40 years old this is his final swansong and it is somewhat surprising that a title shot has come his way given a relatively mediocre record in the last 9 years.
Although Tito still carries some drawing power it isn’t hard to argue that he could be truly out of his depth in this fight. McGeary is younger, hungrier, faster, fitter – you name it he is superior with it. Ortiz brings name value and will still be the biggest name on the McGeary resume, even at 40. Irrespective of anything else that happens on this card an Ortiz win would be the biggest shock by far and I just don’t see it happening. If anything, I see McGeary finishing this early, although the odds are so bad on all outcomes that I am going to stick my neck out a little and take a small punt on the ‘overs’ but I am not super-confident.
Recommendation: Over 1.5 Rounds -1 unit at +100 (1/1) @ 5Dimes
Rather than offer up a Parlay this week I thought I’d write a couple of words about the kickboxing bouts on display.
Paul Daley puts away his MMA gloves for one night only to face off with Fernando Gonzalez in a fight that he admits to being less than excited about. The odds suggest that Daley will walk through his opponent and I’d be inclined to agree.
In a battle of the big men, Zack Mwekassa faces Saulo Cavalari in a rematch from their November 2014 bout. That ended conclusively for Cavalari and it would take a huge swing for this to finish differently.