Bellator 114 Fight Breakdown: Alexander Shlemenko (-265) vs. Brennan Ward (+225)

Maiquel-Falcao The main event of Bellator 114 is a five-round title fight between Bellator middleweight champion Alexander “Storm” Shlemenko and tournament winner Brennan “The Irish Bad Boy” Ward. The current betting line for the fight at Several Bookmakers lists Shlemenko as a -265 favorite (bet $265 to win $100) while Ward is a +225 underdog (bet $100 to win $225). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas originally opened up Shlemenko at -285 and Ward at +205, meaning there has been some two-way action as the line has tightened. Personally, though, I’m surprised the line on Shelemenko hasn’t been bet up, and I’m picking him to win this fight. Here’s why. Shlemenko (49-7) is the reigning Bellator middleweight champion is one of the top 185 pounders in the world. The 29-year-old has defeated the likes of Brett Cooper, Doug Marshall and Maiquel Falcao during his Bellator run, and his only loss in the promotion came to Hector Lombard. Shlemenko is currently riding a 12-fight win streak and has won 18 of his last 19 bouts altogether. He is a finisher in every sense of the word as 36 of his 49 career victories have come via T/KO or submission. An extremely well-rounded fighter, Shlemenko has upped his training in recent years and with improved wrestling and striking looks poised for a long run as the Bellator middleweight champion should he get by Ward this weekend. Ward (9-1) won the Bellator middleweight tournament by taking out Mikkel Parlo, Joe Pacheco and Justin Torrey in impressive fashion. Just 25 years old, Ward is improving rapidly in all facets of the game and has shown in his Bellator run that he is a tough out for anyone at 185 pounds with his mix of solid grappling and knockout power. However, in most of his Bellator fights he was down early only to come back late, which is obviously a concern going up against a strong starter like Shlemenko. Although Ward is a bit unknown and that makes him dangerous, he isn’t in Shlemenko’s class yet and it would be a big upset in my eyes if he was able to win the Bellator middleweight crown this weekend. Ward is going to come out early and try to bang with Shlemenko, but I think the Russian is too smart of a fighter and to good of a striker to get clipped by Ward. Although the possibility of an upset knockout by Ward can’t be discounted, I think Shlemenko should shine here, earning a stoppage victory either T/KO or submission to retain the Bellator middleweight title and show everyone why he’s one of the best middleweight fighters in the world. Although Ward is a dangerous fighter, I personally feel that Shlemenko could be an even bigger favorite here so I do see some value in his current line at -265. But the bet that I like the most on this fight is “the fight does not go the distance,” which is available at -245 at Several Bookmakers. Each man is a finisher and I just don’t see any way this fight lasts five rounds, so I see value in that prop and that’s the bet I’m going to recommend for this particular matchup.

Written by Adam Martin.

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