2015 was supposed to be a new start for Bellator. Scott Coker has been in power since June of last year, he’s had time to work through the events that Bjorn Rebney already had in place, shape the roster with his vision, and the result is… the promotion’s first card of 2015, Bellator 132, looking exactly like every card Rebney put on. The rationale behind reducing the number of events was to make card moving forward deeper from top to bottom, but that doesn’t necessarily seem to be the case with Bellator 132, where a very good title fight has one good bout to go along with it and not a ton else. That title fight is a rematch between one of Bellator’s earlier tournament finals, as now featherweight champion Patricio ‘Pitbull’ Freire defends his title against the man he defeated back in 2011, Daniel Straus. This is one of the better fights taking place all weekend, and a chance for two of the top fighters outside the UFC to get their time to shine. The co-main event on this card features Bubba Jenkins finally taking a step up in his MMA career against former WSOF champion Georgi Karakhanyan. Jenkins came into MMA with a high-level wrestling background, and has parlayed that into decent success, but he is yet to face a solid veteran of the sport. Karakhanyan’s submission game may be enough to force Jenkins into a stand up war, in which case we’ll see how much the former national champion’s game has progressed. Beyond those two fights, the main card features a rematch of the 2014 draw between Houston Alexander and Virgil Zwicker, as well as a welterweight bout with Mariusz Zaromskis and Fernando Gonzalez. MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened the betting lines for Bellator 132 today at 5Dimes Sportsbook. Take a look: ——————– MAIN CARD (Spike TV, 9pm ET) Bellator Featherweight Title Patricio Freire -315 Daniel Straus +235 Bubba Jenkins -150 Georgi Karakhanyan +110 Houston Alexander -140 Virgil Zwicker +100 Mariusz Zaromskis -165 Fernando Gonzalez +125 ——————– Brad’s Analysis: While this card may not have the most enticing fights, I actually quite like it from a betting perspective, although some of these plays go against the traditional rules of betting Scott Coker promoted fights (i.e. never bet on underdogs). Pitbull/Straus is an excellent fight, but I see it having the same result as their last encounter. Both fighters are markedly better than they were in 2011, but the matchup remains largely the same. Pitbull is the better striker, Straus needs to take him to the mat, and I see Straus struggling to do so. The champion has very good power, but I find it difficult to see him stopping Straus with strikes, although a situation where he rocks and submits the ATT-product is possible. More than likely however, we’ll see a competitive but clear decision for the Brazilian, as he retains his belt. Despite being favored, Jenkins is at quite a few disadvantages in this fight. Karakhanyan is the better striker, has better submissions, and has more cardio. Jenkins should be able to take Karakhanyan down, but if he’s able to do so for three rounds and avoid submissions, I’d be surprised. Likewise, if he keeps this on the feet, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Karakhanyan wear him down with strikes. I’d be more confident in Georgi if this were a five-round fight, but even though he may lose a round or two here I see it playing out similarly to his bout against Lance Palmer, where he eventually pulls out the win. It should also be noted that Palmer is an overall superior fighter to Jenkins at this point, so Karakhanyan may not even find himself in the same sort of hole. Georgi as a dog is the play here. I loved Alexander as a dog to Zwicker the first time around, and he was well on his way to winning that fight until his inexplicable headbutts resulted in a draw. There were some particular circumstances that went into that fight however, including Zwicker coming in on a week’s notice, and the bout being a 215lb catchweight. Zwicker never has great cardio, but with a full camp, he should have enough to really make Alexander work for the early takedowns and punish him in the final two rounds. I’m switching my pick this time, and I’m hoping the public reads too much into the first bout allowing me to get a good price on the hometown fighter. Fernando Gonzalez has gotten no respect in his Bellator tenure thus far. The longtime middleweight was a +325 underdog to Karl Amoussou, who he outworked to a decision, and then a +145 dog against a faded Karo Parisyan (although the public did bet him in that bout), who he knocked out in under two minutes. He faces another fighter who is a shell of his former self in Mariusz Zaromskis, and I think he can pull off the upset again. Zaromskis is chinny, and Gonzalez has proven he has the chin and aggression to come forward against heavy hitters. Zaromskis hasn’t looked impressive to me since his run through the DREAM welterweight GP back in 2009, and I don’t expect him to turn it around now. Anything over +150 on Gonzalez is worth a shot, and if it hits +200 that’s a must-bet to me.