Bellator 120 Fight Breakdown: Alexander Shlemenko (-460) vs. Tito Ortiz (+320)

Tito Ortiz One of the main card matchups at Bellator 120 is a three-round light heavyweight bout between Bellator middleweight champion Alexander “Storm” Shlemenko, who is moving up in weight for the fight, and former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito “The People’s Champion” Ortiz. The current betting line for the fight at Several Bookmakers lists Shlemenko as a -460 favorite (bet $460 to win $100) while Ortiz is a +320 underdog (bet $100 to win $320). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas originally opened up Shlemenko at -305 and Ortiz at +225, meaning there has been early action on the Russian. It’s a strange matchup but I agree with the action on Shlemenko as I’m picking him to win the fight. Here’s why. Shlemenko (50-7) is the reigning Bellator middleweight champ and is moving up to 205bs for this super fight against Ortiz. The 29-year-old Russian has won 13 fights in a row and is overall 11-1 in Bellator with wins over Brett Cooper, Brennan Ward, Maiquel Falcao, Brian Rogers and Bryan Baker, with the only loss coming to Hector Lombard. In fact, he’s won 28 of his last 30 fights overall. He is a finisher, and in his career 37 of his victories have come via T/KO or submission. He is extremely well-rounded with his attacks, routinely throwing body shots to open up the head for attack and vice versa. He also has decent wrestling and a great chin. Overall he’s one of the top 185ers in the world and is finally getting his due these days as one of the best fighters in the world. With no middleweight set to fight him yet for the title, Bellator is giving Shlemenko a super fight up a weight class against one of the sport’s legends in Ortiz, and a win for Shlemenko would help push his popularity to new heights. But this is a dangerous fight where Shlemenko will be giving up nearly 30lbs of size, and he’ll have to do his best to keep the fight standing if he wants to win it. Will he? We’ll find out this weekend. Ortiz (16-11-1) is one of the greatest fighters in the history of the sport and is making his return to the cage after a two-year injury layoff and temporary retirement. The 39-year-old has fought the best in the world at 205lbs during his Hall of Fame career, and he holds notable victories over Vitor Belfort, Ryan Bader, Ken Shamrock, Patrick Cote, Wanderlei Silva, and Vladimir Matyushenko, to name a few, as well as having a draw with Rashad Evans. However, he’s been caught in a nasty losing skid over the last few years and is 1-7-1 overall over his last nine bouts. But at least to his credit the level of opposition he has fought has been extremely high. A powerful wrestler who was one of the original ground and pounders, Ortiz is a massive light heavyweight and in this fight against Shlemenko he will hold a big size advantage. And that’s what he’s going to have to use to win this fight, because standing and trading against a lethal striker like Shlemenko is a bad idea. So will Ortiz be able to get the takedown? It’s a good question, because if he can he has a good chance of grinding out a decision. But after such a lengthy layoff, it’s hard to back Ortiz and that’s why he’s such a big underdog this weekend at Bellator 120. This is a really weird fight that I could see playing out a lot of ways. I think Ortiz might be able to land a takedown or two in the first round but I do think he’ll tire as the fight goes on and I expect Shlemenko to rip into him with body shots and force a stoppage sometime in the second or third round. This is a total pass fight if I’ve ever seen one and there’s no way I would suggest playing Shlemenko at -460. As for Ortiz, if he reaches +500 he could be worth a small flier just for sheer value, but until then this fight is a total pass for me as far as any sort of bet goes. The only thing that is of mild interest is a prop on Shlemenko inside the distance — if that’s at plus money, it could be worth playing.

Written by Adam Martin.

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