Bellator 66 Picks

The semifinals of the Season Six lightweight and middleweight tournaments will take place on Friday at Bellator 66 followed by the main event featuring former lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez against Shinya Aoki. Alvarez (22-3) will be fighting for the first time since losing his title belt to Michael Chandler at Bellator 58 last November 19, and he is looking to avenge the second loss of his career against Aoki (30-5-2). The five bouts on the main card will be televised live on MTV2 starting at 8 p.m. (ET) with six others on the preliminary card shown earlier on from the I-X Center in Cleveland. The Bellator odds have Alvarez as a solid -220 favorite, and he won the inaugural Bellator lightweight tournament final against Toby Imada via rear naked choke submission back in 2009, which also made him the organization’s first-ever lightweight champ. He defended his title once before losing to Chandler as part of a seven-fight winning streak that began after he lost the first matchup with Aoki (+180) at Dynamite!! 2008 in Japan for the WAMMA lightweight championship. Aoki beat Alvarez by heel hook submission in the first round, and he has won 11 of 13 bouts since then. His two losses during that stretch came against Hayato Sakurai and Gilbert Melendez. Aoki is riding a seven-fight winning streak following that loss to Melendez via unanimous decision in his only Strikeforce appearance a little more than two years ago. In other Bellator betting action, three American fighters advanced to the semifinals of the lightweight tournament with Brent Weedman (19-7-1) facing Brazilian Thiago Michel (10-2) in one matchup and Lloyd Woodard (12-1) meeting Rick Hawn (12-1) in the other. Michel will be squaring off against an American for the first time in his pro MMA career, as all 10 of his wins have come against other Brazilians. He earned a split decision victory against fellow Brazilian Rene Nazare in the tournament quarterfinals at Bellator 62. Weedman suffered the first loss of his career to UFC fighter Gray Maynard nearly six years ago, which cost him an entry to Season Five of The Ultimate Fighter. He has not made it past the semifinals of the welterweight or lightweight tournaments in his last four bouts, going 2-2 with losses to Jay Hieron and Chris Lozano. Woodard and Hawn have each suffered just one loss, and both came against quality opponents. Woodard fell to current lightweight champ Chandler via unanimous decision a year ago in the semifinals of the Season Four lightweight tournament. He advanced to this year’s semis with a kimura submission against Patricky Freire. Hawn lost to Hieron in the Season Four welterweight tournament final by split decision and knocked out Ricardo Tirloni in the first round of their quarterfinal bout. The middleweight tournament semifinal matchups include Maiquel Falcao (29-4) against Vyacheslav Vasilevsky and Brian Rogers (9-3) against Andreas Spang (7-1). Falcao fought once in the UFC and defeated Gerald Harris before being released by the organization following a 2002 assault charge. His lone loss in his past 12 bouts came against Antonio Braga Neto. However, MMA bettors may choose to put their money on Vasilevsky, who has won 15 in a row, although just one of those victories has come on American soil. That would be his quarterfinal win over Victor O’Donnell in his Bellator debut. Meanwhile, Spang is an injury replacement for Bruno Santos while Rogers also previously beat O’Donnell in the Season Five middleweight tournament quarters before losing to Alexander Shlemenko in the semis. Rogers is coming off a first-round KO of Vitor Vianna by flying knee in the quarters of this year’s tourney.

Written by Matty

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