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Matt Mitrione vs. Roy Nelson: Best Bet for Bellator 194

Trevor Dueck

by Trevor Dueck in Mixed Martial Arts News

Feb 13, 2018 · 4:32 PM PST

Roy Nelson after losing at UFC 143
Roy Nelson, seen here after losing at UFC 143, has lost seven of his last 11 fights. Photo by Olympia UFC (YouTube).
  • Matt Mitrione meets Roy Nelson at Bellator 194 in Uncasville, Connecticut, on Friday, February 16.
  • Who will move onto Bellator’s Heavyweight Grand Prix semi-finals?
  • Where does the value lie for MMA bettors?

This Friday, Bellator’s Heavyweight Grand Prix continues when Roy Nelson and Matt Mitrione square off. The victor will earn a spot in the semi-finals of the Heavyweight Grand Prix and face the winner of the Ryan Bader vs. Muhammed Lawal bout scheduled for later this year. If you’re looking for a masterclass in technical striking, look elsewhere. If you want to see two big-heavies stand in the middle of the cage and throw bombs, you have come to the right place.

After going 2-0 with our picks at Bellator 192, where Chael Sonnen beat “Rampage” Jackson in the first Grand Prix bout, it’s time to throw more of our own MMA betting haymakers at Bellator 194’s main event.

ROY NELSON (+155) vs. MATT MITRIONE (-180)

Matt Mitrione (12-5) and Roy Nelson (23-14) are two very large, very powerful, and very past-their-prime cage fighters.

Mitrione enters this bout having won six of his last eight fights and is coming off a win over Fedor Emelianenko. Nelson has lost seven of his last 11 fights but is coming off a win over Javy Ayala.

This is the second meeting between these two former UFC heavyweights; “Big Country” Nelson won via TKO back in 2012. Mind you, it’s hard to put too much stock into a result that happened over five years ago.

Even at 42 years old, [Nelson] remains one of the stronger punchers in the sport and, if he connects with his deadly right hand, most men fall.

Each of Mitrione’s last nine victories have come by way of knockout, and he has no issue going toe-to-toe with any of his opponents. As you’d expect from that style, his fights usually end early.

Nelson also loves to bang, but he has a durable chin and has actually gone to the judges’ scorecards a surprising number of times in his career, with 12 of his 14 losses coming by decision. He can take a lot of punishment and keep moving forward. Even at 42 years old, he remains one of the stronger punchers in the sport and, if he connects with his deadly right hand, most men fall.

Mitrione is the betting favorite, which makes sense. The former NFL pro is a natural athlete who has a better recent track record. But let’s be realistic: both these guys are shells of their former selves. Ultimately it will come down to who has more left in the gas tank if things get into the second and third rounds.

The key could actually be Nelson’s ground game. Believe it or not, his fight-game is almost as well-rounded as his body. As we saw in his last fight against Ayala, he is a very capable grappler that can score points on the ground.

With the possibility of one punch ending things, there is certainly no “safe” bet on this fight. But given Mitrione’s propensity to eat right hands (he’s been dropped in two of his last three contests), something that plays right into Nelson’s skill set, plus Nelson’s durability and better grappling, the betting value lies with the underdog. Sprinkle a little on Nelson’s +155 moneyline.

$25 on Roy Nelson (+155) $38.75 profit


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