Lightweight title bout: David Rickels (+700) vs Michael Chandler (-1100) Fight Breakdown: The Bellator 96 main event features a match-up for the organizations Lightweight title between the Champion Michael Chandler and the challenger David Rickels. Chandler is currently a giant favorite at -1100 ($1,100 to win $100) while Rickels is the monster underdog at +700 at 5Dimes Sportsbooks. David Rickels (14-1 MMA, 6-1 Bellator) is a 24 year old striker from Kansas who has been on a tear in Bellator, aside from one Split Decision loss to Karl Amamassou at Bellator 69 one year ago. He bounced back from the debatable defeat with four straight wins to earn him a shot at the 155 title. David Rickels posesses great stand up skills; he is very effective with his strikes. He is also good in the ground and pound, where he likes putting his elbows to use. His takedown defense isn’t very good and that hole could be taken advantage of, as Michael Chandler is very good at taking advantage of fighters’ holes. (pun intended) Rickels’ cardio has helped him earn many of his Decision wins; as opponents lose momentum in the third round, Rickles is there to notch it. Unfortunately for him, his cardio will not be a very valuable tool in this bout, as Chandler is no slouch when it comes to his conditioning. Rickels had to cut 50lbs for this bout, so it’s possible we we’ll see him in the worst shape to date. I think the fact that he let himself go that much, knowing he’s got a title-fight in his future, shows mental weakness. Michael Chandler (11-0 MMA, 8-0 Bellator) returns for his ninth Bellator fight and third Lightweight title defense. He beat Eddie Alvarez for the title nearly two years ago and has since defended it against Akihiro Gono and Rick Hawn. Chandler is one of the most talented fighters in all of mixed martial arts and would have a legitimate shot at being 155 Champion in the UFC. He is an NCAA Division I wrestler from the University of Missouri and currently trains out of Alliance MMA in San Diego, where he trains with fellow lightweights Ross Pearson and Myles Jury. Michael Chandler is an incredible athlethe who is both extremely talented on the feet and on the ground. He is an explosive fighter with a good chin; a heavy hitter who posesses serious power. Chandler has a solid right hook and a great over-hand right. His striking defense is good, also, as he displays excellent head movement. He has good conditioning; he’s great at putting on the pressure, getting takedowns, transitioning, and doing damage in the ground-and-pound. Fight Prediction: Regardless of where this fight goes, Michael Chandler is going to have the upper hand over David Rickels. Chandler is going to dictate the pace and control the fight. It will end up on the mat sooner or later and Chandler will secure a victory by rear-naked-choke submission or TKO stoppage. Gabe’s Pick: Michael Chandler by Submission (rear-naked-choke, 4:55, round 2) Gabe’s Recommended Play: Under 4.5 rounds -215 — This is the first five round fight of David Rickels’ career and I don’t think he lasts four and a half rounds with the most talented mixed martial artist he has ever faced in Michael Chandler.