On Thursday March 7th, 2013, Temecula, California will play host to the semi-finals of Bellator’s Season 8 Middleweight and Featherweight tournaments. Today, Nick Kalikas breaks the odds for the organization’s visit to Dan Henderson’s backyard over at Several Bookmakers. ——————– Brett Cooper -215 Dan Cramer +165 Sultan Aliev -365 Doug Marshall +275 Alexandre Bezerra -160 Mike Richman +120 Magomedrasul Khasbulaev +160 Marlon Sandro -210 ——————– Brad’s Analysis: In what are two well-matched tournaments, it isn’t surprising that three of the four lines opened relatively close, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see the lines move even closer as we get to fight time. The headlining fight on this card is the middleweight match-up between Cooper and Cramer, two hard-nosed competitors looking to elevate themselves from tough guy (or in Cramer’s case, TUF guy) to contender at 185. To many people, Cramer seemingly came out of nowhere to defeat Brian Rogers in the quarterfinals, but after his brief stint in the UFC, he has been developing quietly on the regional scene and on Bellator undercards. Against Cooper, his disadvantage is that he has not fought the same level of competition as his opponent. Despite being only 25 years old, Cooper possesses a wealth of experience, and his ability to go deep into fights and grind them out should allow him to negate the cardio advantage Cramer had against Rogers. The other middleweight semi-final features the only long odds on the card. Despite coming off of two very impressive knockouts, Doug Marshall is a sizeable underdog to the rather unproven Sultan Aliev, and I must say, I agree. Marshall has simply been stopped decisively too many times in his MMA career to think that his run in Bellator could go on forever. Aliev showed the patience in his Bellator debut to withstand Marshall’s early onslaught, and a solid all-around game which could see him stop this bout on the feet or from top position. Don’t be shocked to see money come in on Marshall however, as violent knockouts go a lot further towards impressing the public than decisions on an undercard. The featherweight division continues to prove itself as one of Bellator’s best, and this tournament shows why. In one semi-final you have a vicious striker against a dynamic grappler, and the other features two fighters who have shown off every aspect of their MMA games, even if one has been around far longer than the other. The most intriguing bout on this card to me is between Mike Richman and Alexandre Bezerra. Don’t be surprised to see this line flip more than once over the next few days, as bettors jump back and forth between Richman’s powerful striking and Bezerra’s slick submission skills. To me this fight comes down to whether Bezerra continues to try to showcase his striking, as he has been more willing to do of late, or if he uses his grappling roots. On the ground, ‘Popo’ has a far bigger advantage than Richman has on the feet, but we all know where fights start, and Bezerra has shown in the past that he can be hit if he chooses to play into the marine’s preferred game. At the same time, the Brazilian has shown that he can take a shot and still be dangerous regardless of where he is when the fight hits the floor. Finally, we see a bout that could mark a changing of the guard in Bellator’s featherweight division. Marlon Sandro has been one of the standouts at 145 for a long period of time, this being his third tournament for the organization. As pointed out by MMA Oddsbreaker’s Luca Fury, the daunting schedule Bellator fighters face could be taking a toll on Sandro, as his performances have appeared to slip of late. As a result, Frodo Khasbulaev — who extended his Bellator record to 3-0 with an impressive win over Fabricio Guerreiro — will likely be a fashionable upset pick. Still, Khasbulaev’s primary weapon through his career has been his grappling, and Sandro is the superior grappler in this fight. How Sandro reacts to the short turnaround between fights will be the key here.