After another event that saw all of the big favorites take home victories, Bellator returns this Friday with a card that looks a bit harder to break down and could very well produce some upsets. The headlining bouts are the welterweight tournament semifinals as Rick Hawn and Brent Weedman have a rematch of their 2012 lightweight clash. Also, a clash of personalities is in store for the second semifinal, as the colorful War Machine takes on the no nonsense Ron Keslar who surprised in his opening round victory. The other televised fights are in the heavyweight division — as Eric Prindle and Kiwi kickboxer Peter Graham should engage in a slugfest — and middleweight division — as another former TUF cast member, Kendall Grove, takes on Joe Vedepo. The undercard has a few intriguing fights which will have lines opened as well. Frenchman Karl Amoussou takes on wrestler Paul Bradley, former UFC/TUF vet Rob Emerson fights Jared Downing, and submission specialist Paul Sass steps in with Rod Montoya. Today MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened the betting odds for all of these Bellator 104 bouts at Several Bookmakers. Check them out: ——————– MAIN CARD (Spike TV, 9pm EST) Welterweight Tournament Semifinal Rick Hawn -165 Brent Weedman +125 Welterweight Tournament Semifinal War Machine -160 Ron Keslar +120 Peter Graham -260 Eric Prindle +180 Kendall Grove -280 Joe Vedepo +200 ——————– PRELIMINARY CARD (Spike.com, 7pm EST) Karl Amoussou -150 Paul Bradley +110 Jared Downing -170 Rob Emerson +130 Paul Sass -1645 Rod Montoya +785 ——————– Brad’s Analysis: I can see as many as five underdogs winning out of these fights. The only favorites I think will come through without much issue are Jared Downing (who will be underrated after getting destroyed by ‘Pitbull’) and Paul Sass who is having Rod Montoya (owner of 10 career submission losses) absolutely fed to him. In the other bouts, I see a clear path to victory for each underdog:
- Paul Bradley can outwrestle and outlast Karl Amoussou, who always has conditioning issues, and I’m strongly considering him for a bet.
- While the most likely scenario is Joe Vedepo getting knocked out with his poor chin, he can also outwrestle Kendall Grove and win based on top position, or perhaps even submit the Hawaiian.
- No matter how the line in Graham/Prindle moves, you can only bet the underdog in this fight. Laying any juice on either of these guys is a sure way to an empty bankroll. Graham is the better striker, but has a non-existent ground game. So if it stays on the feet, he should win. If it goes to the ground, Prindle (and I can’t believe I’m saying this) has a sizeable advantage.
- I’ve always contended that War Machine is a talented fighter despite all of his troubles, and he is likely the more skilled fighter in this bout. He does have a glaring weakness in the form of his cardio though. That is an area where Ron Keslar excels, and if this fight goes deep I can see Keslar taking the 2nd and 3rd rounds, or perhaps even a late submission.
Finally, in the main event Rick Hawn has the edge on the books because of his win in the last meeting with Brent Weedman, but this is a different rematch than most. For starters, it’s not being fought at the same weight class — their first bout was at 155 — and Weedman was preparing for a move up to 170, while Hawn was still planning on fighting at 155 before a short notice spot opened up in this tournament. Secondly, I did a trends article a little while ago that saw a clear lean towards younger fighters in rematches, and Weedman is 8 years younger than Hawn. Third, their previous fight was the final of a tournament where Weedman had been through two grueling bouts earlier in the tournament, while Hawn had two relatively easy knockouts. All of those factors lead me to believe there is a great deal of value in Weedman as a dog here. My cohorts on the At Odds MMA Show agree, as all three of us actually picked Weedman to beat Hawn in this bout.