Two of the biggest fights in promotional history will take place in Bellator 221 on Saturday night in Chicago.
In the main event, lightweight champion Michael Chandler settles his blood feud with featherweight champion Patricio “Pitbull” Freire. It’s a feud that stems from Chandler’s dismantling of Pitbull’s brother, Patricky “Pitbull” Freire, and only the second champion vs. champion fight in promotional history.
Things are no less high stakes in the co-main event, where former welterweight champion Douglas Lima takes on internet sensation Michael “Venom” Page in the semifinals of the Bellator Welterweight Grand Prix. There’s some great action for fans of MMA betting to consider.
This fight is for more than just the Bellator lightweight title, it’s for the title of Bellator posterboy as well. Both Chandler and Pitbull are tied for third all-time in promotional bouts at 20, and first all-time for most promotional wins, at 16 and finishes, at 10 apiece.
Unfortunately for Pitbull, everything seems to be lining up for Chandler to move ahead in all of those categories.
At various points, Michael Chandler has looked like he might be the best lightweight in the world. He’s a powerful wrestler and boxer, with great takedowns and dynamite in his hands. Those attributes enabled him to outwork Patricky Pitbull in their first encounter and then starch him in their rematch.
His biggest weakness is a slight tendency to fade down the stretch in fights where he cannot overwhelm opponents with his physicality.
Like his brother, Patricio Pitbull is a sharp striker with a solid grappling background. He throws excellent leg kicks and very real KO power in his punches. He also possesses an excellent understanding of angles so he rarely finds himself working harder than he needs to and that helps support his takedown defense, which is very good.
That will be important against Chandler, who should be considerably larger than Pitbull and looking to take the smaller man down to grind on him.
At the end of the day, this fight is simple: Chandler is a huge lightweight and Pitbull is a adequately sized featherweight. Barring a big punch from Pitbull, this fight should play out as expected.
If Pitbull were a stick and move fighter, this might be more interesting as his speed could give Chandler problems, but he’s not so expect Chandler’s big advantage in raw power to seal the deal. Chandler is currently -230 with 888Sport and that is worth a bet.
If the winner of Chandler vs. Pitbull is the posterboy for Bellator, the winner of this fight won’t be far behind. Lima is already as accomplished in Bellator as practically any fighter, with 12 wins and 8 KOs, the most of any fighter in promotional history.
Standing opposite him on Saturday is Michael Page, the man Bellator has been hoping would break out as their next big star. Sadly, he will not this weekend.
Lima is a striker by trade and an excellent one. He has some of the best leg kicks in the game and serious KO power, along with a BJJ black belt. His biggest weakness is his takedown defense, which is good but not great.
Fortunately, Page shouldn’t be looking for takedowns. MVP is also a striker. Hailing from a sport karate background, Page favors flashy techniques, particularly kicks, over bread and butter strikes. Those techniques work for him though and have incapacitated many an opponent.
Douglas Lima is -285 at Karamba and that is well worth a bet. Page has a gaudy record but much of that is a function of his opponents. Paul Daley is MVP’s best opponent so far and Lima is a tremendous leap up from that. He’s also the exact type of opponent that Page’s sizzle won’t be as effective against.
Lima can jab and low kick Page out of his comfort zone, and even work takedowns if he wants. Outside of a miraculous wheel kick, I expect the better fighter to outwork the overhyped one and punch his ticket to another title shot, so -285 is great value , and the truly adventurous could even parlay Lima with Chandler at -105 for a big payday.
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