Bellator 214: Bleacher Report Staff Picks

Nathan McCarter@McCarterNFeatured ColumnistJanuary 24, 2019

Bellator 214: Bleacher Report Staff Picks

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    With no UFC event on tap for the weekend, Bellator takes center stage at The Forum in Inglewood for Bellator 214. Leading the bill will be the finals of the Heavyweight Grand Prix.

    Fedor Emelianenko and Ryan Bader will battle for the championship in the evening's main event. Fedor, who many consider the GOAT, is a shopworn shell of himself but still managed to make the finals. Bader is on the opposite end of the spectrum. The light heavyweight king of Bellator is on form and fighting better than ever.

    In the co-main event, top prospect Aaron Pico looks to keep rolling against Henry Corrales. And let's not forget former WWE star Jake Hager will be making his MMA debut on the main card as well.

    The B/R crew of Scott Harris, Nathan McCarter and Steven Rondina are here to run down the action and offer up the expert picks for the five-fight main card.

    There are the staff picks for Bellator 214 where a new heavyweight champ will be crowned.

Brandon McMahan vs. Adel Altamimi

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    Steven Rondina

    No clue why this is on the main card...but this one's a pick'em between two regional-level guys. I'll go with McMahan.

    McMahan, unanimous decision

    Scott Harris

    No idea who these people are. None whatsoever. It happens on MMA main cards these days. McMahan is kind of a non-entity on this stage, which suggests he's cannon fodder for Altamini, who is no great shakes at 7-5 knows how to submit people with six of those as a pro.

    Altamini, submission, Rd. 2

    Nathan McCarter

    Yeah, I'm not familiar with these cats. McMahan has a losing record while Altamini has a winning one, and during my research I noticed McMahan fought in some organization called 864 Fighting Championship. I can't in good faith pick him based on that alone.

    Altamini, unanimous decision

Juan Archuleta vs. Ricky Bandejas

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    Rondina

    Ricky Bandejas is a relatively hot property after beating James Gallagher, but that doesn't necessarily cement him as a legitimate talent. Archuleta, though? Well, his 21-1 record and 3-0 record in Bellator is enough to get me to buy into him...at least for this fight.

    Archuleta, unanimous decision

    Harris

    Let the Bandejas train continue to roll. He's the underdog here—it's almost as if an awesome viral video can't vault you into title contention—but I think he'll use his kickboxing to catch the favorite here.

    Bandejas, TKO, Rd. 2

    McCarter

    I'm with Steven on this one. Bandejas' upset over Gallagher may be a bit of fool's gold, and now Bellator is going to look to help Archuleta out by stealing his thunder. After his prior showing, I won't suggest Bandejas gets finished. Look for it to be competitive early before Archuleta takes control.

    Archuleta, unanimous decision

Jake Hager vs. J.W. Kiser

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    Rondina

    The "WWE guy tries out MMA" thing might sound bad at this point but Jack Swagger is more Brock Lesnar than CM Punk. He's a massive dude and a legitimate NCAA Division I All-American wrestler. He'll probably look sloppy here, given that this is his first fight, but he should win in fairly decisive fashion.

    Hager, unanimous decision

    Harris

    The main card drops off just a tiny bit after the top two contests. But they didn't set up Jack Swagger to lose here.

    Hager, TKO, Rd. 3

    McCarter

    Bellator is definitely lining up a can for Hager to crush. A win should be a given. The bigger question is how good will he look? Will he try out his stand-up for a while leading to a lackluster fight? Or will he put his wrestling to use and get a finish? I tend to think the latter is more beneficial for everyone.

    Hager, TKO, Rd. 1

Aaron Pico vs. Henry Corrales

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    Rondina

    I'm all in on Pico at this point. He's damn good, and getting better at a scary pace. Corrales might be able to take advantage of his relative inexperience but I'm not going to think about picking against Pico until he's facing real cream-of-the-crop types.

    Pico, TKO, Rd. 1

    Harris

    Pico is a runaway freight train at this point. Corrales is a good fighter, well-rounded and experienced, but he can't take Pico down and won't be able to stand up to his body shots.

    Pico, TKO, Rd 1

    McCarter

    Pico may already be one of the best in the world. Corrales is not. Pretty simple math. Pico will tear through him without resistance. Bellator may want to look at putting Pico into a title eliminator because he is ready for the next step.

    Pico, TKO, Rd. 1

Fedor Emelianenko vs. Ryan Bader

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    Rondina

    Fedor Emelianenko is the greatest of all time...but he's still 42 years old fighting an in-his-prime, modern day elite. That's just not a winning recipe, no matter how you slice it. I'm expecting this to go poorly for the Last Emperor, but I'd be happy to get proven wrong!

    Bader, TKO, Rd. 1

    Harris

    The noise is growing that Emelianenko may retire after this fight. If that's the case, here's hoping the battle-worn 42-year-old doesn't get too embarrassed or damaged en route to the announcement.

    Bader, TKO, Rd. 1

    McCarter

    I tend to think like my counterparts here, but I am still going to pick Emelianenko in this spot. Fedor has already lost to light heavyweights like Dan Henderson and battered by Fabio Maldonado, but he still can hit very hard. Bader still has a suspect chin. I'm betting on Fedor escaping with one well-placed shot.

    Bader is the rightful favorite and the smart pick. This is a complete gamble.

    Emelianenko, KO, Rd. 1