Bellator 120: Main Card Betting Odds and Predictions
Despite losing Eddie Alvarez due to a concussion, Bellator MMA's inaugural pay-per-view will go on.
The lightweight champion was expected to defend his belt in a highly anticipated rubber match with Michael Chandler. With Alvarez unable to compete, Chandler was bumped out of the main event and will now compete against Will Brooks for an interim championship.
Now headlining Bellator 120 will be a light heavyweight tournament final between former UFC champion Quinton Jackson and former Strikeforce champion Muhammed Lawal. The winner of that matchup will earn a shot at 205-pound champion Emanuel Newton.
Bellator 120 is not what it could have been with the trilogy between Alvarez and Chandler, but the event is still somewhat intriguing. As the event approaches on Saturday, here are the latest main card betting odds along with predictions.
Quinton Jackson (-255) vs. Muhammed Lawal (+215)
With two straight knockout wins since joining Bellator MMA, Rampage may have gained a second wind.
Although Jackson isn't the same fighter who knocked out Chuck Liddell to win a UFC championship seven years ago, he also might not be dropping off the map as quickly as some may have predicted. His only losses over the past five years have come against opponents who are still sitting in the Top 10 UFC light heavyweight rankings.
Because he's had more experience against high-level competition, Jackson is a worthy favorite in this matchup with Lawal.
While King Mo has beaten up most 205-pounders he's faced since signing with Bellator MMA, he has suffered two losses to Emanuel Newton, a fighter who probably wouldn't be considered Top 10 among UFC 205-pounders.
Ultimately, Jackson and Lawal are battling to remain relevant light heavyweights, which is not easy to do when competing outside the Octagon.
Recently, Lawal has fallen in love with his boxing. Straying from his strong wrestling background has been detrimental to the former Strikeforce champion.
If he opts to stand with Jackson, King Mo will be lucky to make it out of the first round. Rampage might not be the fighter he once was, but he's shown in recent fights that he has the power to finish an opponent with one punch.
Expect Jackson to win in impressive fashion, meaning an early knockout, on Saturday before going on to capture a Bellator MMA championship.
While he's the favorite for good reason, Jackson's troubles with takedown defense late in his UFC career could come back to haunt him in this matchup.
Lawal might not utilize his wrestling as much as he should, but he has the ability to shut Rampage down on the ground with the right game plan. For that reason, it might be best to stay away from betting on Jackson at these odds.
If one feels strongly that Lawal has learned his lesson from fights with Newton, and one expects King Mo to come out gunning for takedowns, throwing some money down on the NCAA All-American wrestler wouldn't be the worst idea.
Michael Chandler (-1000) vs. Will Broooks (+650)
Chandler will have a chance to take home a Bellator MMA championship on Saturday, but it isn't the one he wants.
Following an Alvarez concussion, Chandler now finds himself in a contest with Brooks that will determine an interim lightweight champion. Since the length of Alvarez's absence is still to be determined, the interim belt may end up having very little meaning.
While Chandler was awarded his rubber match with Alvarez because he battled to a split decision with the now-champion at Bellator 106, Brooks earned his shot at a title by defeating Alexander Sarnavskiy in the finals of a 155-pound tournament at Bellator 109.
Bellator MMA brass made this a title fight to generate as much interest in this pay-per-view as they possibly could, but they aren't fooling anybody. This is simply a title-shot eliminator to determine who gets the next crack at Alvarez when he's healthy.
Sporting a 13-1 record, Brooks is no scrub. He's earned his place in the Bellator 120 co-main event.
Beating Chandler, though, will be an incredibly tough task.
Having dominated almost everybody he's faced except Alvarez, Chandler has proved he's one of the best lightweights in the world. Only four fights removed from a knockout loss to Saad Awad, Brooks has not seen an adversary on Chandler's level.
Chandler should be able to overwhelm Brooks, who took this fight on very short notice, early on. Considering the rubber match between Alvarez and Chandler is the biggest bout that the promotion can't put on, Bellator MMA better hope that is how this goes down on Saturday.
In all likelihood, Chandler will blow through Brooks and allow Bellator MMA to match him with Alvarez again. That said, he's not worth betting on at these current odds.
Brooks would provide excellent return should he find a way to win, but his chances of beating Chandler are slim. From a betting perspective, it would be wise to pass on this matchup.
Tito Ortiz (+385) vs. Alexander Shlemenko (-485)
Nearly two years since he lost to Forrest Griffin at UFC 148, Tito Ortiz will make his return to competition at Bellator 120.
At 39 years old, it's hard to imagine Ortiz making a serious run at a Bellator MMA championship. However, should he have his way with Alexander Shlemenko, one of the biggest stars competing in the promotion, the former UFC champion will have more big fights coming his way.
With 50 career wins, Shlemenko is one of the most accomplished fighters in Bellator MMA history. In his past 20 appearances, he has only lost to Hector Lombard, who is now making a run at a UFC championship.
Since he usually competes at 185 pounds, size could be a significant problem for Shlemenko, as he meets a career light heavyweight in Ortiz.
In a prior era, Ortiz's wrestling used to be strong enough to dominate top-level fighters on the ground.
That time is long gone, though.
Although primarily considered a striker, Shlemenko has good enough takedown defense to shut down Ortiz's wrestling. If he can keep this fight standing, Shlemenko has a good chance at putting Ortiz away with a solid shot to the body within the first two rounds.
Current odds are fair on Shlemenko. That said, the size disadvantage is enough to dissuade a conservative gambler from laying money down on him.
Considering his age and lack of recent activity, Ortiz doesn't have a great chance of beating Shlemenko on Saturday. Even if he did, I'd like to see a better return on investment than these odds are offering.
Alexander Volkov (-120) vs. Blagoi Ivanov (+100)
After losing the Bellator MMA heavyweight title to Vitaly Minakov in November 2013, Alexander Volkov has quickly made his way back to within one win of a rematch with his fellow Russian.
In order to get another shot at Minakov, Volkov will need to best Blagoi Ivanov on Saturday. Having only lost to Minakov in his past 13 fights, Volkov is certainly capable of beating Ivanov and winning in another heavyweight tournament final.
The victim of a stabbing, Ivanov missed all of 2012 while recovering. He has picked up where he left off, though, going 4-0 since returning to competition.
With this matchup, he has a great opportunity to take his Hollywood-worthy story to another level.
Striker versus grappler matchups don't come around too often these days, but this is one of them.
If Volkov can thwart his adversary's takedowns, he should get another shot at a Bellator MMA championship. Should Ivanov get this matchup to the ground, though, he has the ability to put the Russian away quickly.
Personally, I have more faith in Ivanov scoring takedowns than I do in Volkov shutting them down. So, expect an early submission.
Jump on Ivanov before all the smart money comes in. As an underdog, he's a steal in this matchup.
Michael Page (-475) vs. Ricky Rainey (+380)
Michael Page has been marketed as the next big thing for a couple of years now. He's still unproven, but his flashy striking is fun to watch.
Ricky Rainey recently picked up a win over Andy Murad in a debut with Bellator MMA. While he's a relative unknown to casual fans, Rainey does appear to be a solid prospect.
With both fighters doing their best work when standing, Bellator MMA is no doubt hoping this fight ends in a knockout that generates some serious buzz around the winner.
Page has essentially tooled his five MMA opponents, stopping each of them in the opening round.
Rainey has had twice as many fights, but he has been considerably less dominant. The American lost two fights while competing under the XFC banner and hasn't been able to toy with opponents the way Page has in many of his outings.
After being stopped by a less impressive striker in Johnny Buck, Rainey could have his hands full in a stand-up bout with Page on Saturday. A knockout win for Page is a pretty safe prediction.
I feel pretty confident Page will come away with the victory. At the same time, I'm not playing these odds on any fighter as unproven as Page is right now.
Odds via BestFightOdds.com.