In what is kind of weird timing, Bellator 192 starts its Heavyweight Grand Prix Tournament on the same night as the UFC’s next heavyweight title fight.
Maybe that was on purpose, maybe it’s a coincidence. Either way, it’s great for bettors, who can take some of the wisdom from our Best Bets for UFC 220 and maybe combine them with the picks below.
This Saturday in Inglewood, California, UFC veterans and MMA legends Chael Sonnen and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson will be going toe-to-toe in the first quarterfinal-round fight of Bellator’s eight-man heavyweight tourney. Side note, neither of these guys are true heavyweights but one of them will move onto the semifinal nonetheless.
Sonnen is coming off a boring win over Wanderlei Silva, while Rampage hasn’t fought since last March, when he lost to Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal.
The Rampage vs. Sonnen fight is the actual main event, which is a bit of a shock considering Rory MacDonald vs. welterweight champ Douglas Lima is the far more interesting bout. It just goes to show, once again, that Bellator president Scott Coker will always go with name-brands over anything remotely resembling quality.
There aren’t too many wagering options on this card, but the main and co-main events of the evening have some potential.
Chael Sonnen (+155) vs. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (-165)
As mentioned above, this bout between two aged fighters gets the marquee treatment because they have big names (and probably big bellies to match).
Even though this fight likely won’t deliver entertainment-wise, the betting lines still offer some value. Chael Sonnen (29-15-1) may not be what he used to be, and nowadays it seems that he’s more of a mouth than a fighter. (Give credit where credit is due, the man can talk his way into any fight.) But he should not be this big an underdog to Rampage (37-12).
The key to this bout will be Jackson’s motivation levels, and whether he comes in with an actual game-plan. Rampage will need to find a way to stop Sonnen from doing what we all expect him to do, going for the double-leg takedown. My guess is Jackson will do what he always does: show up barely in shape, throw some power punches, and have difficulty dealing with a wrestler … again.
Jackson is the favorite because of his formidable stand-up game. While that’s certainly an edge he holds of Sonnen, his striking is not what it used to be. Sonnen’s wrestling has not fallen off as much. If Jackson can’t finish this fight early, it could be a long night for the former UFC light-heavyweight champ.
My bet: $25 on Sonnen (+155)
Potential payout: $38.75 profit
Douglas Lima (c) (+190) vs. Rory MacDonald (-230)
It’s clear that Rory MacDonald (19-4) is the favorite in this fight, but Douglas Lima (29-6) is no easy out. The Bellator welterweight champion has fought the toughest guys that Bellator has to offer. That said, McDonald will be his toughest task to date.
MacDonald was already one of the best welterweights in the world when he surprisingly left the UFC, and many thought it would be just a matter of time before he was anointed a Bellator champion. Last May, MacDonald wasted no time in putting the division on blast, choking out Paul Daley to set up this title showdown with Lima.
As good as Lima has been, MacDonald is just better no matter where the fight goes. He can grapple, he can punch, and if it was a swimming competition, the Canadian would probably have the edge in that too.
Lima can’t allow MacDonald to find his rhythm. The Brazilian will need to keep his opponent on the outside with his patented leg kicks and well-timed jabs. If he can do that, he has a chance to win this fight via decision, but that’s not a likely script.
This fight shouldn’t really be close. Don’t back the underdog looking for a big payday. But matching McDonald with the under-valued Sonnen on a parlay is a good option.
My bet: $50 on Rory MacDonald (-230) + Chael Sonnen (+155)
Potential payout: $132.93 profit