Arguably the best Bellator card of all time takes place this Saturday night at The Forum in Inglewood, California. The card is headlined by Rampage Jackson and Chael Sonnen kicking off the Bellator heavyweight tournament of 2018, but the real peoples main event is the welterweight title fight between defending champion Douglas Lima and Canadian superstar Rory MacDonald. Of course this very solid Bellator card has to be on the same night as UFC 220 (check out my picks here), which is a great PPV card in of itself.
The prelims get underway at 7pm with the main card getting started at 9pm. You can watch the entire event live for free on Spike TV here in Canada. If you don’t want to shell out the money for the UFC 220 PPV, you won’t be leaving any quality on the table by tuning in to Bellator this Saturday.
I’ll be using the best odds being offered from any of our recommended bookies for each of my picks on this card.
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Rory MacDonald vs Douglas Lima
Rory came into his Bellator debut against Paul Daley and looked absolutely dominant, having his way with Paul Daley, controlling where the fight went and eventually getting a second round submission on the mat. After a full year layoff from his loss to Stephen Thompson, Rory looked very good and quickly backed up his talk that he would be a multiple weight world champion in Bellator.
I’m a fan of Rory and I think he is an elite fighter, but that said, people should not sleep on Douglas Lima. He’s the Bellator champ for a reason and he’s looked great in his last 3 fights. His recent win over UFC vet Lorenz Larkin was particularly impressive because he dominated Larkin landing big shots on the feet. In fact, in his last three fights he’s faced very strong stand up fighters in Paul Daley, Andrey Koreshkov and Lorenz Larkin, and gotten the better of each of them. Lima will have a power advantage in this fight and if he can land some big shots to Rory’s nose he could make it difficult on the Canadian.
That said, Rory is the far more well rounded fighter. He may be at a slight disadvantage on the feet, but if he gets this fight to the mat I think he will be able to go to work in a big way. In his Bellator career, Lima has mostly gone up against other strikers, but Rory poses a wider range of challenges for the Brazilian. If you remember Lima’s fight with Ben Askren back in 2012 we saw how a great wrestler could easily man handle Lima, with Askren winning that fight 50-45 on all judges scorecards. I’m not saying Rory has as strong of wrestling as Askren, but I do think he will be able to get this fight to the mat at some points, where he will have no trouble inflicting damage, threatening submissions and winning rounds.
If Lima can avoid takedowns and land big shots he has a chance in this fight, but my money is on Rory finding a way to get it done and continuing his career resurgence in Bellator.
Play: MacDonald 1.44
Chael Sonnen vs Quinton “Rampage” Jackson
Bellator really had to stretch it to find big name heavyweights for their 8-man tournament this year. Many of the big names are not natural heavyweights and that includes Chael Sonnen. In fact he’s likely the most glaring inclusion in the tournament because he had the vast majority of his success at middleweight in his UFC career. Yes, he’s fought at light heavyweight quite a bit as well, but he’s 2-5 at MMA career at light heavyweight according to the fights recorded at that weight at Tapology.com. Sonnen is a wrestler who gained the majority of his success at middleweight through power takedowns and being able to hold his opponents down and inflict damage once on top. He was the bigger guy at middleweight, which was a big reason for his game plan succeeding. Once he became the smaller man at light heavyweight it became much more difficult to impose his bullying style against stronger men. We’re now increasing things even more with Sonnen going against an even bigger man at heavyweight in Rampage Jackson. Yes, Rampage did his best fighting at light heavyweight, but he’s added a lot of weight and actually looks like a heavyweight at this point in his career. I have a difficult time thinking that Sonnen will be able to overpower Rampage in any aspect of the game.
All of that said, I’m not confident in this pick for a few reasons. Firstly, Rampage has had difficult with wrestlers for a lot of his career. He just lost a wrestling base decision to Muhammed Lawal at heavyweight and before that he squeaked out a very close decision against another wrestler in Satoshi Ishii. Also, he doesn’t look good at heavyweight. He looks overweight and slow. I don’t think Rampage is at the point in his career where he cares too much about winning or losing. That said, Rampage will still be my pick because he should be able to stay on his feet or get back to his feet against a much smaller Chael.
Play: Rampage 1.65 @ SportsInteraction.com
Michael Chandler vs Goiti Yamauchi
Yamauchi is a solid fighter, but I think his only path to victory in this fight is to get a submission on Chandler. Yamauchi has found first round submissions in each of his last 3 fights, so it’s not out of the question, but I think it’s unlikely against a guy like Chandler who has 20 professional fights and has never been finished.
Chandler was on a very impressive 4 fight win streak before his freak accident and subsequent loss to Brent Primus in his last outing back in June. I expect him to come back into the cage with something to prove, and a win here will surely get him that rematch with Primus that he wants.
Play: Chandler 1.36
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