Bellator 88 Picks: Featherweight Quarterfinal Fight Marlon Sandro (-295) vs. Akop Stepanyan (+215)

akop-stepanyan Bellator 88 The Arena at Gwinnett Center, Duluth, Georgia Thursday, February 6, 2013 Featherweight Quarterfinal Fight: Marlon Sandro (-295) vs. Akop Stepanyan (+215) Fight Breakdown: The Bellator Season 8 Featherweight Tournament kicks off with an intriguing matchup between former two-time tournament finalist Marlon Sandro and Russian prospect Akop Stepanyan. Sandro opened up as a -295 favorite (bet $295 to win $100), while Stepanyan opened as a +215 underdog (bet $100 to win $215). Sandro (23-4) is genrally regarded as one of the finest featherweights in MMA history. The former Pancrase and Sengoku featherweight champion, the 35-year-old Sandro has a wealth of experience fighting all over the world against some of the best in the sport. He’s been solid since moving over to Bellator, posting a 6-2 record, but he hasn’t been able to win a tournament as he’s lost in the finals both times he’s made it, to Pat Curran and Daniel Straus, respectively. A well-rounded fighter who is a black belt in BJJ, this might be Sandro’s last run at a Bellator world title and so we can expect him to be extremely motivated for this fight against the younger Stepanyan. Stepanyan (12-4) is an extremely talented prospect coming out of Russia. He is a very talented striker who is a black belt in Taekwodo and he holds half of his career victories by way of T/KO. In his Bellator debut, he lost via submission to veteran Wagnney Fabiano, and in total three of his four career losses have come via tapout. A professional since only 2009, the 26-year-old Stepanyan has gone 12-1 since opening his career with three-straight losses, so it’s clear he’s improving. But has he worked on his ground game enough in order to survive Sandro’s submission attacks? Fight Prediction: Stepanyan is a dangerous fighter in the standup but has glaring holes in his ground game. If he fights smart, and he should, Sandro is going to take this fight to the floor and put the squeeze on Stepanyan, submitting him and moving on to the next round of the featherweight tourney. Adam’s Pick: Sandro via submision (click for latest MMA odds) Adam’s Recommended Play: At -290, Sandro was more than worth a bet. However, the public has steamed him up to nearly -500 now, making this fight a total pass since, while I do believe Sandro will win, he’s just not worth taking the risk on at such a high price tag.

Written by Adam Martin.

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