Bellator 88 Picks: Middleweight Title Fight Alexander Shlemenko (-210) vs. Maiquel Falcao (+160)

Maiquel-Falcao Bellator 88 The Arena at Gwinnett Center, Duluth, Georgia Thursday, February 6, 2013 Middleweight Title Fight Alexander Shlemenko (-210) vs. Maiquel Falcao (+160) Fight Breakdown: The main event of Bellator 88 features the long-awaited middleweight title fight between contenders Alexander Shlemenko and Maiquel Falcao. Shlemenko opened up as a -210 favorite (bet $210 to win $100), while Falcao opened as a +160 underdog (bet $100 to win $160). These are two of the most talented 185 pounders not signed to the UFC so this should be an excellent fight. Shlemenko (46-7) is arguably the best Russian fighter in mixed martial arts today. The winner of the Bellator Season 5 Middleweight Tournament, the 28-year-old Shlemenko has been waiting over a year for his opportunity to fight for the Bellator middleweight title, a belt that Hector Lombard vacated when he signed with the UFC. On the bright side, he’s stayed busy while he’s been waiting, racking up three victories in smaller shows including a TKO of Minowaman in the Indian Super Fight League. Shlemenko is a very well-rounded fighter who can fight in every facet of the game but he shines in the striking department as 27 of his career victories have come by way of TKO. He’s also extremely hard to finish himself, as he’s only been stopped three times in his 53 career bouts. He’s an absolute stud and one of the most underrated fighters in the game, and he can prove how good he really is by taking out Falcao at Bellator 88. Falcao (31-4, 1 No Contest) is an extremely aggressive fighter with heavy hands, as evidenced by his 23 career T/KOs. The 31-year-old Brazilian actually made it to the UFC a few years ago, but after a boring fight against Gerald Harris at UFC 123 and a subsequent legal issue, the UFC released him and Bellator picked him up. Since coming to Bellator, Falcao is 3-0 and won the Bellator Season 6 Middleweight Tournament, but it seems as though he’s lost some of that killer instinct that made him such a highly touted prospect coming out of Brazil as he’s went to decision in all three of his Bellator MMA bouts. As well, he hasn’t fought in eight months, so he might experience some ring rust in this bout. Still, he’s one of the most dangerous fighters in the world in the first round of a fight, so if he’s able to connect on the right spot of Shlemenko’s chin, he has the chance to score the upset victory here and become the new Bellator World Middleweight Champion. Fight Prediction: Falcao is going to come out strong in the first and second round, but Shlemenko is going to survive and as the fight wears on the Russian’s superior cardio is going to help him dearly, as he takes this fight into the championship rounds and scores a TKO victory over a tiring Falcao to become the new Bellator World Middleweight Champion. Adam’s Pick: Shlemenko via TKO (click for latest MMA odds) Adam’s Recommended Play: Shlemenko is currently sitting around -275. I like him at anything under 3-to-1, but not straight. If you’re going to play him at this price tag look for someone else to pair up with him in a parlay.

Written by Adam Martin.

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