This Friday, Bellator puts on one of the best fights the promotion is capable of producing, as Liam McGeary puts his light heavyweight title on the line against Phil Davis in the main event of Bellator 163. McGeary remains undefeated in 11 career bouts, scoring stoppages in all but his title win over Emanuel Newton. Despite that streak, McGeary opened at +185 underdog (bet $100 to win $185) in his title defense. Davis has looked impressive since coming over to Bellator as well. He scored stoppages over Emanuel Newton and Francis Carmont to win a one-night tournament at Bellator’s first Dynamite event. He then scored a decision over Mo Lawal (who he was originally slated to face in the tournament final) to earn his title shot against McGeary. The former Penn State wrestler’s performances have been enough to earn him a -265 (bet $265 to win $100) opening tag in this fight. The co-main event sees Saad Awad move up to welterweight to take on Brennan Ward. Ward has size and power advantages in this fight because of the weight classes, but has some technical holes in his game which have been exploited primarily in his submission game. Awad is moving up for the second time in three fights, and his last outing at welterweight was successful, as he knocked out Cyborg Santos (who Ward lost to in his last appearance). Bellator 163 also features another lightweight moving up a division, as Derek Anderson faces one of the best strikers at 170 in Paul Daley. Sergei Kharitonov also makes his North American return after five years of fighting abroad, as he debuts in the Bellator cage against Javy Ayala. Finally, Marloes Coenen looks to rebound from her first Bellator loss as she takes on BJJ specialist Talita Nogueira. The undercard of Bellator 163 also features a pair of high-level wrestlers making their MMA debuts. Ed Ruth is one of the most highly touted prospects to make the transition to MMA in the last several years, and already spent some time training with former UFC champion Jon Jones before making the full-time switch. Tyrell Fortune is also making his debut. MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened the betting odds for Bellator 163 today at Several Bookmakers. Take a look: ——————– MAIN CARD (Spike TV, 9pm ET)
——————– Brad’s Analysis: If Brennan Ward doesn’t get rid of Saad Awad early, I think he’s going to be in some real trouble. Once Awad begins to find his rhythm, he’ll be the more effective striker here. While Ward could resort to his wrestling, Awad’s submission skills are always underrated, and I actually think he’s got even more of an advantage on the mat here. I’ll forego the old adage of “weight classes exist for a reason” and take Awad to win, I’m just hoping the line gets bet up. Derek Anderson is probably better than Awad, but he’s drawn a much more difficult matchup against Daley. Anderson has consistently shown a good chin at lightweight, but Daley is a different kind of hitter, and could put him out when he inevitably lands on Anderson with his poor striking defense. Daley also isn’t as susceptible to being submitted from top position as Ward, and is better than most give him credit for with his offensive wrestling. I’m not sure if it will be a KO or decision, but I think Daley gets the job done. Sergei Kharitonov has rather quietly been beating solid competition around the world, even though it seems like he’s been extremely inactive. He’s also been competing in kickboxing fairly regularly, and that will obviously be what he looks to do against Javy Ayala. I see no reason why he won’t be able to, as only elite heavyweights have really been able to take Kharitonov out of his game over the course of his career. Am I going to lay the nearly 3-to-1 on him? No. But he probably wins anyways.