Bellator kicks of the company’s 8th season this Thursday, January 17th with their 85th event at Irvine, California’s Bren Event Center. The card features two high octane title fights, with Lightweight Champion Michael Chandler defending his title against season 6 tournament winner Rick Hawn, and Brazilian Patricio Freire challenging for Pat Curran‘s featherweight belt. The event also initiates the company’s Lightheavyweight tournament, but more on that later. Let’s look at where the books have the lines with the fights a few days away…
The Freire-Curran Featherweight title tilt is at a dead heat even money, with Freire at -110 and Curran at -120. It is in intriguing fight, in that both have notched 17 wins in their MMA career, and are experienced competitors. The only black mark on Freire’s record is a loss to Joe Warren, who Curran KO’d nicely to stay undefeated at 145 lbs. Curran has appeared to come into his own in this weight class, but it is basically pick your favorite in this one, as Freire is right there with Curran in skills.
The main event Lightweight title fight is almost as closely contested at the books, as it shows Champion Michael Chandler at -205, with the comeback on Hawn sitting at +165. Chandler, undefeated at 10-0, has earned a lot of respect since winning the title, taking it from Eddie Alvarez. If this line continues to favor Chandler and extends itself, Hawn may be worth a play. Hawn has more MMA experience, and his lone loss is at 170 lbs. He has looked very solid at 155 lbs, and with his extensive competitive background in Judo on his resume, he enjoys a considerable advantage in terms of competition over the young champion.
Bellator is making a mistake in terms of overall organization with their tournaments. This time, we get three matches in the Lightheavyweight tournament, with the big ‘King’ Mo debut being reserved for Bellator 86. Granted it is only a week, but in a short tournament format like they run, a week more or a week less rest could make a difference. It makes Bellator seem second rate, again.
The lone tournament match on the broadcast is a tough one, as it pits veteran ‘Babalu’ Sobral (37-9 overall) against aggressive Russian Mikhail Zayats. The books have Sobral a solid -280 favorite with the comeback on Zayats at +210. What makes Zayats an exciting fighter will likely work to his detriment in this bout, as Sobral has seen it all and will likely be looking to play it safe and advance into the semi finals unscathed.
Bellator deserves credit for having competitive matches in terms of the odds, unlike the recent STRIKEFORCE card which was full of one sided action.
Those are the three fights on the SPIKETV Broadcast, with the undercard being broadcast on SPIKE.COM.
The complete card appears below:
- Michael Chandler vs. Rick Hawn – Lightweight Title bout
- Renato Sobral vs. Mikhail Zayats – lightheavyweight tournament
- Pat Curran vs. Patricio Freire – Featherweight Title bout
- Cleber Luciano vs. Mario Navarro
- Jacob Noe vs. Seth Petruzelli – lightheavyweight tournament
- Jason Lambert vs. Hector Ramirez
- J.J. Ambrose vs. Brian Warren
- Atanas Djambazov vs. Emanuel Newton – lightheavyweight tournament
- Mike Guymon vs. Savant Young
- Joe Williams vs. Jamie Yager
- Joe Camacho vs. Aaron Miller