It seems to be becoming more and more of a regular practice these days. With Bellator MMA gaining more steam and needing to put out more cards and events, days where they coincide with a UFC event are becoming more commonplace. But this week’s Bellator 221 card from Rosemont, Illinois, may rival even the best UFC PPV event.
On Saturday night, Bellator will give fans one of more heated rivalries in company history in the main event when lightweight champion Michael Chandler puts his belt on the line against featherweight champion Patricio “Pitbull” Freire. If successful, Freire will become the first dual champion in company history.
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But this fight is about much more than belts. In 2016, Chandler knocked out Freire’s brother, Patricky, with a beautiful right hook to claim the 155-pound title. In doing so, Chandler went out a crazy celebration run that included a pair of backflips and standing on top of the cage, which Patricio took offense to.
The bad blood only escalated from there over social media. Now, the two will finally get to settle this in the cage on Saturday night.
In the co-main event, one of the most intriguing stylistic matchups goes down when Douglas Lima squares off with Michael “Venom” Page in the World Welterweight Grand Prix semifinal. The two have shared plenty of admiration for their opponent in the lead up, but this fight will provide one of the toughest tests to date for Page after his decision victory over Paul Daley in February. Lima is coming off a destructive stoppage over Andrey Koreshkov in September. His only loss in the last three years came at the hands of current welterweight champ Rory MacDonald in January 2018, and he hopes to matchup with him in the final later this year.
Plus, it’s the return of former WWE superstar Jake Hager (formerly known as Jack Swagger) when he takes on T.J. Jones in a heavyweight bout. Jones made waves during the week for his somewhat unique backstory as a beef plant worker where he says he used to practice his punches on the meat like Rocky Balboa. It will be Hager’s second professional MMA bout.
Let’s take a look at the full fight card with the latest odds from William Hill.
Bellator 221 odds
Michael Chandler (18-4, c) -227
Patricio Freire (28-4) +175
Bellator lightweight title
Douglas Lima (30-7) -250
Michael Page (14-0) +175
Bellator World Welterweight Grand Prix semifinal
AJ McKee (13-0) -278 Pat Curran (23-7) +200 Featherweights Jake Hager (1-0) -909 TJ Jones (1-1) +500 Heavyweights Tywan Claxton (4-0) -714 James Bennett (3-1) +400 Featherweights
With a big card on tap, our experts took a crack at picking the main and co-main events. Here are your pick makers: Brian Campbell (combat sports writer), Matthew Coca (producer), Jack Crosby (editor), Michael Mormile (producer) and Brandon Wise (editor).
Bellator 221 predictions, picks
Chandler (c) vs. Freire
Lima vs. Page
Wise on why Chandler will win: The grudge match will come to a thrilling end on Saturday night. As has been the case in MMA superfights of late, I tend to lean on the guy not fighting in a new weightclass. Granted, “Pitbull” has fought at 155 pounds before his in his career, but his greatest success has come at 145. Look for Chandler to maul the smaller opponent in Freire to score a late TKO.
Crosby on why Lima will win: This is where the MVP hype hits the brick wall. It’s been a fun run up to this point, but Lima being the more experienced mixed martial artist and former world champion has the edge here. MVP showed the cracks in his underwhelming performance against longtime rival Paul Daley, and I fully expect Lima to take advantage. The journey toward what I expect will be a rematch with Rory MacDonald in the grand prix final continues here for Lima.
Read this article from its original source at https://www.cbssports.com/mma/news/bellator-221-fight-card-michael-chandler-vs-patricio-freire-predictions-odds-expert-picks/