Bellator 92 Betting Preview

Marlon Sandro 2Bellator has held so many events they’re beginning to challenge my Roman numeral knowledge, which is less than extensive, but I figured I could get to 92. I guess I’m wrong. Still, Ninety-three events is an impressive milestone, especially for an MMA organization, and with Spike behind Bjorn Rebney and company, Bellator has been barreling forward with great event after great event with this latest show taking place at the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, California. As always, you can see the main card on Spike, with the prelims on This marks only the second time since moving to Spike that neither a title fight nor a tournament final match-up is on a Spike-televised Bellator card. Now, that shouldn’t dissuade anyone from watching an event that has the potential to be extremely exciting, featuring two middleweight tournament semi-final match-ups and two featherweight tournament semi-final bouts. Let’s dive right in and take a look. First up are middleweights Doug Marshall (16-6 MMA 2-0 BFC) and Sultan Aliev (9-0 MMA 1-0 BFC). Aliev opened a strong favorite at Several Bookmakers, -365 (bet $365 to win $100), with the come back on Marshall being +275 (bet $100 to win $275). Doug Marshall packs dynamite in his fists: in his 16 victories, he’s tallied 11 knockouts and is currently on a two-fight winning streak with two extremely beautiful knockouts. His first came against Kala Hose at Bellator 82 in 22 seconds, and his next was a first round, walk-off knockout in the quarterfinals of the middleweight tournament against Andreas Spang. Standing in the way of his middleweight finals berth is Sultan Aliev: a scary, undefeated Russian and International Master in the art of Sambo, who in his nine wins has six knockouts (a 66% knockout rate). Both of these men should look to make another vicious statement on Thursday night. In the next middleweight tournament semifinal, longtime Bellator vet, Brett Cooper (18-7 MMA, 5-2 BFC) takes on TUF and UFC vet/journeyman Dan Cramer (10-3 MMA, 7-1 BFC), fresh off an impressive victory over middleweight mainstay Brian Rogers. Cooper opened as a decent -215 favorite, while Cramer sits as a +165 underdog. Over the last 18 months or so, Brett Cooper has evolved his game to include some impressive takedowns and top control. Clearly, Cooper’s time with Mark Munoz, Mayhem Miller and the rest of the crew at Kings MMA has paid off. Cooper has developed a vicious ground and pound game to complement his usual, brawling, style. Cramer shocked a lot of people when he decided to stand and bang with headhunter Brian Rogers, but his nearly bottomless gas tank and slick ground game propelled him to an impressive win. Both of these guys are young, hungry and have a lot on the line. This could either be an all-out war or a fight where both men attempt to overwhelm the other with their ground games en route to a safe path to the finals. It should be good, and close. In the featherweight division, a fight that is almost guaranteed to end with one of the combatants on their back, looking up at the Pechange Resort lights goes down between Alexandre Bezerra (15-2 6-1 BFC) and Mike Richman (14-2 MMA, 3-1 BFC). In what many are pegging as the best fight of the evening, Bezerra opened as a slight -160 favorite, while Richman opened +120. This fight can be summed up with a simple stat line: Richman has finished 13 of 14 opponents and Bezerra has finished 14 of 15 opponents. Both of these guys want to get to the finals and have a slew of weapons in their arsenal to get there. Richman has the more impressive stand up, winning his last three fights via knockout, while Bezerra has 10 submissions to his name. Both of these men are comfortable wherever the fight lands, the only question is who will make the first, overzealous mistake that will cause their name to be scratched out of the tournament bracket. Bellator matchmaker Sam Caplan also doubles as one of the best talent scouts in the business, and Magomedrasul Khasbulaev (19-5 MMA, 3-0 BFC) is proof of this. Although he isn’t an International Master of Sambo like Sultan Aliev, he is a Master of Sambo, which seems to be a high enough level to make King of Pancrase and former Sengoku featherweight champ, Marlon Sandro (24-24 MMA, 7-2 BFC) weary. Khasbulaev, who opened as a +160 underdog, is trying to stop Sandro — a -210 favorite —  from seeing his third featherweight tournament final since he joined Bellator Fighting Championships in 2011. Previously, Sandro was knocked out for the first time in the featherweight finals in the 2011 Bellator Summer Series by Pat Curran, then ground to a halt by the stifling wrestling of Daniel Straus. Sandro is well-rounded and has faced just about every situation a fighter could face, so he will be ready for the killer that is Khasbulaev. The Russian has finished in 17 of his 19 wins, with 12 submissions and 7 knockouts. Look for him to bull-rush Sandro and overwhelm him early and often to gain an advantage.

Written by Jason Nawara

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