The MMA odds and ends series is usually reserved for my thoughts on the UFC’s new bookings, but we can’t ignore Bellator. The Scott Coker-led promotion has revealed some notable bouts for the upcoming Bellator 222 card, and below are my initial thoughts on these matchups.
Chael Sonnen vs. Lyoto Machida, Bellator 222
Bellator 222 takes place June 14 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York. The main event is a light heavyweight bout between Chael Sonnen and Lyoto Machida. Check out my thoughts on this matchup in a previous odds and ends here.
Kyoji Horiguchi vs. Darion Caldwell 2, Bellator 222
Also added to Bellator 222 is an intriguing rematch between RIZIN bantamweight champion Kyoji Horiguchi and Bellator bantamweight champion Darrion Caldwell. These two fought at RIZIN’s New Year’s Eve event, with Horiguchi winning the fight by third-round submission. Horiguchi (27-2) will be making his Bellator debut here riding a 12-fight win streak. He’s a perfect 9-0 in RIZIN, and is coming off of a brilliant TKO win over former UFC fighter Ben Nguyen just a few weeks ago. Caldwell (13-2) is 10-1 overall in Bellator but hasn’t fought since the loss to Horiguchi in the RIZIN ring. The last time we saw Caldwell in Bellator he knocked out Noah Lahat last summer, and aside from a shocking submission defeat to Joe Taimanglo in 2016 he’s looked amazing in the Bellator cage. Still, you have to go with Horiguchi to win this rematch. There’s no reason to think much has changed since the last time these two fought, and I would expect Horiguchi to be a sizeable favorite this time around despite the fact he was an underdog the first time these two met.
Dillon Danis vs. Max Humphrey, Bellator 222
As well, a catchweight (175lbs) bout between Dillon Danis and Max Humphrey takes place at Bellator 222. Dannis (1-0) submitted Kyle Walker in his Bellator and MMA debut last April, but will be coming off of a 14-month layoff into this bout. Humphrey (3-2) is making his Bellator debut after losing by knockout to a nobody on the regional scene in his last outing. You can see what Bellator is trying to do here by booking this mismatch, and Dannis will be a huge favorite to get the win.
Rory MacDonald vs. Neiman Gracie, Bellator 222
We weren’t sure if Rory MacDonald would be ready to fight Neiman Gracie, but Bellator made the official announcement that the fight was on. The Bellator welterweight title will be on the line in the semifinals of the Bellator welterweight grand prix. MacDonald (20-5-1) is 2-1-1 overall in Bellator and is coming off of a majority draw to Jon Fitch, having advanced in the tournament due to a rule where the champion advances in case of a draw. MacDonald took quite a bit of damage in the Fitch fight and said afterwards in his post-fight interview that he doesn’t have the drive to hurt his opponents that he once did. That’s concerning, and makes you wonder if he should be fighting so soon. He says he’s ready, but we’ll see. Gracie (9-0) is 7-0 in Bellator and overall has finished eight of his pro wins by submission. He’s coming off of a great win over Ed Ruth in the quarterfinals, and is a live dog here against MacDonald. I expect MacDonald to be favored, but I would take a long look at Gracie in this one as MacDonald needs to be faded at this point.