Bellator 94 Picks: Lightweight Final David Rickels (-165) vs. Saad Awad (+125)

bellator-91 Bellator 94 USF Sundome, Tampa, FL, US Thursday, March 28, 2013 Lightweight Final: David Rickels (-165) vs. Saad Awad (+125) Fight Breakdown: The final of the Bellator Season 8 Lightweight Tournament features a classic matchup between the wrestler David Rickels and the striker Saad Awad. Rickels is currently a -165 betting favorite (bet $165 to win $100) to win at Several Bookmakers, while the comeback on the underdog Awad is +125 (bet $100 to win $125). Rickels (13-1) made it to the tournament finals with decision wins over Jason Fischer and Lloyd Woodard. The 24-year-old American is nicknamed “The Caveman” due to his straggly appearance and off-kilter fighting style. Rickels is a grinder who takes you down, who pushes you against the fence, who takes punishment in order to dish it back, who works well off his back and on top, and who is just a very difficult fighter to defeat, having lost only once in his career, a split decision setback to Karl Amoussou. With a 7-1 record in Bellator, Rickels has quietly become one of the promotion’s most underrated fighters, and if he can go out on Thursday night and derail the Awad hype train, he will earn both $100,000 in cash and his crack at the Bellator lightweight title, as well as the respect of the fans and media. Awad (14-4) was a last-minute replacement for Patricky “Pitbull” Freire in the lightweight tournament but has proven that he deserved his place in the tourney all along. In his two fights so far, he has knocked out both Will Brooks and Guillaume DeLorenzi in a combined 74 seconds. In fact, of his past seven victories, six have come in the first round, with five of those coming in the first minute of the fight. The 29-year-old’s power is absolutely unreal, and although Rickels has a very solid chin that has been tested many times, if anyone is going to knock him out it’s going to be Awad. The problem with Awad in the past has been his tendency to gas out as the fight goes on, but he’s promised that he’s corrected his cardio issues and that even if this fight with Rickels goes past the first round, he still feels he can win. You’ve got to love when a guy is that confident in himself. Fight Prediction: I see Awad being super aggressive as soon as the opening bell goes, moving right into the center of the cage and going for Rickels’ chin immediately. Rickels is a very tough guy and has a hell of a beard on him, but with 45 minutes of cage time in the last four months as compared to 74 seconds for Awad, I think his luck is going to run out in this fight and his chin is finally gong to fail him as Awad knocks him out quickly and earns a title shot against Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler. Adam’s Pick:¬†Awad via KO (click for latest MMA odds) Adam’s Recommended Play: I liked Awad more when he opened at +185, but even at +125, I do like him for a straight bet here to come through as the underdog. Awad has just too much power in his hands and Rickels has been in three tough fights in the last four months, so it’s possible that Awad becomes the first man to finish Rickels, and if you think that’s what will happen then another thing to look at would be the UNDER for this fight.

Written by Adam Martin.

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