Following up on one of the most viewed cards in Bellator history, the organization comes back with an event headlined by Melvin Guillard. No, this is not 2007. Guillard is also coming off of a one-year suspension for a “non-performance enhancing banned substance,” or to put it more simply: cocaine. Alright, maybe it is 2007 and we’re stuck in some crazy Bellator time warp after all. Prior to the suspension (which was reduced from one year to six months), Guillard actually had his first solid performance in years, defeating David Rickels in just over two minutes at Bellator 159. Had it not been overturned, the win would have snapped a three-fight skid for the former TUF veteran and been his first victory since 2014. Instead, he heads into his bout with Chidi Njokuani winless in his last four and six of seven. He’s also moving up significantly in weight for this contest. Traditionally a lightweight (although he has had major struggles making the weight in recent years), this bout will be fought at a 175-pound catchweight. Njokuani is on a much different trajectory in his career. The former Tachi Palace champion has won his last six bouts, and the streak would be at seven if not for a No-Contest against UFC vet Chris Heatherly. Njokuani’s last loss was nearly four years ago against Jeremy Kimball — who makes his UFC debut this weekend as a light heavyweight. The talented striker seems to have consistently figured out how to keep bouts where he wants them and has impressed while there. The main card of Bellator 159 also features: David Rickels versus Aaron Derrow in the co-main event, featherweight prospect AJ McKee Jr. facing Brandon Phillips, and Jessica Middleton taking on Alice Yauger in the evening’s opening bout. The preliminary card has a few more intriguing bouts, as Tyrell Fortune and Jarod Trice of Bellator’s “Fab Five” make their sophomore appearances. Undefeated Chris Harris (8-0) and Jordan Young (5-0) also square off in the middleweight division. MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened the betting odds for the main card of Bellator 171 today at Several Bookmakers. Keep reading to see those lines below… ——————– Bellator 171: Guillard vs. Njokuani JANUARY 27, 2017 Kansas Star Arena | Mulvane, Kansas MAIN CARD (Spike TV, 9pm ET) Melvin Guillard +170 Chidi Njokuani -230 Over 1.5 -155 Under 1.5 +115 – Aaron Derrow +335 David Rickels -505 Over 1.5 -185 Under 1.5 +145 – Brandon Phillips +435 A.J. McKee -705 Over 1.5 -105 Under 1.5 -135 – Alice Smith Yauger +250 Jessica Middleton -350 Over 2.5 -230 Under 2.5 +170 – ——————– Brad’s Analysis: Njokuani has a six-inch height advantage and nine-inch reach advantage over Guillard in this fight. Those are going to be difficult factors for Guillard to overcome on their own, but when coupled with Njokuani also being a better technical striker, and Guillard coming into this bout 20 pounds heavier (and likely slower), I just don’t see it happening. We’ve seen Guillard gun-shy in recent fights, and this seems like the perfect recipe for him to come out in a shell again. If that happens, he’s going to get picked apart by Njokuani and stopped. Even if he comes out aggressive, I only give him a slightly better shot, as Njokuani can likely land as Guillard tries to leap in, much like he did against Andre Fialho recently. Njokuani extends his streak here, and if he can figure out how to hit 170 consistently, could be a legitimate title contender for Bellator. When I think of Derrow, I think back to the early days of Titan and RFA, where he was a middle-of-the-road type of guy with a good enough submission game to give some people trouble. Looking back at him now, he never developed beyond that, as he lost five of his last seven bouts before having more than a two year layoff coming into this bout. These are the types of fights Bellator wants for Rickels, a regional-level guy he can beat, in Kansas where he can sell a bunch of tickets and get a good pop from the crowd. That’s exactly what we’ll see on Friday. McKee Jr. just had his toughest pro fight against Ray Wood, but he emerged with a clear decision. Now he faces Phillips, who fought Ray Wood in April of 2016 and lost a decision. I understand what they’re trying to do with McKee, and I think he’s got serious potential, so I don’t mind, but this is Bellatorian matchmaking to a T. I think McKee will eventually find a submission in this one, as his hype train keeps on rolling. I have no idea who Middleton and Yauger are, but I do know that Bellator is trying really, really, REALLY hard to make their women’s divisions a thing. Sorry Scott, but nobody’s buying it. By the way, you have some really interesting 1-0 prospects you could have put in this spot instead (that’s assuming Middleton is a prospect).