Bellator 94 Betting Preview

Newton ZayatsBellator 94 is the ultimate example of the Bellator tournament format playing out in the most interesting of ways. The show is a bit light on the ‘wow factor’ in the marquee compared to the last few months of stacked cards, but how can you not appreciate the paths of the four men meeting in the lightweight and light heavyweight tournament finals, respectively? Beyond the two tournament finals, two slots for the upcoming Summer Series tournaments could be on the line during the main card as well. A lot is on the line. Let’s take a look at what is coming on Thursday night from Tampa, Florida. The lightweight tournament final couldn’t have two more different stories to lead these men to the end of season 8. Dave Rickels (13-1) has gone through his last two opponents in grueling, fifteen-minute battles that saw the judges award Rickels the toughly-fought fights. This is a culmination of years of work for Rickels, who went 5-1 in Bellator before joining the tournament. His body of work had him open as a solid -265 favorite (bet $265 to win $100) at Several Bookmakers, while his opponent Saad Awad was a +185 underdog (bet $100 to win $185). Awad (14-1), actually joined this tournament only a few days before it was scheduled to begin. When Patricky Pitbull was injured, Awad stepped in as a late replacement. Awad came into the Bellator cage with nothing to lose and knocked out his opponent in a little over thirty seconds. Then, he knocked out the much-hyped Will Brooks in 43-seconds. It would be in Rickels’ best interest to make this a grueling match like his previous bouts, even though Awad will be fresh off of his two quick wins. For the favorite, why test your chin in the finals? Bring it to the ground and grind it out, even though Rickels has serviceable kickboxing. The public has the opposite idea in this fight, as they have bet Rickels down to a -205 favorite, while Awad is close to his original price at +188. The light heavyweight tournament finals are just as eyebrow-raising at the end of the bracket. Emanuel Newton (20-7) lost a controversial decision to Attila Veigh in the 2012 Summer Series final, and now Attila is the champion and Emanuel has somehow made it to the finals against impossible odds. He won a hard-fought battle against Atanas Djambazov in the opening round, weathering an early storm to come back with the submission win. Then, Newton pulled the upset of the year by knocking out King Mo with a spinning backfist, ousting the favorite from the tournament and sending Newton to the finals. ‘The Hardcore Kid’ used that momentum to open as a -210 favorite in this bout, with the comeback on Mikhail Zayats at +160. Zayats (21-6), has had a similar run through the tournament, just not as shocking. He upset Babalu Sobral in the opening round by knocking the veteran out with a spinning backfist, then subbed Jacob Noe in the first round of their semifinal contest. This should be a good fight, with both men farther along in the tournament than anyone expected them to be, it could be a lively battle. Bettors agree as they have taken the line to a near pick ’em. Newton now sits at -110, while Zayats is +100. With a shot at the Summer Series tournament on the line, Ronnie Mann (21-5-1) needs to step up his game in the Bellator cage, losing two of his last three fights in the featherweight tournament to Pat Curran and Mike Corey. Mann now moves to bantamweight to shake things up in his career. Mann faces ground specialist Rodrigo Lima (10-1), so Mann may try to keep the fight standing for the majority of the fight. Lima may try to take it to the ground to submit Mann, but Ronnie is also proficient on the ground on top or off his back. Mann finally has the size advantage in a fight with this bout, although it shouldn’t be substantial. It will be interesting to see if the move to 135 greatly improves Mann, or if Lima is headed to his second bantamweight tournament. The more proven Mann opened at -210, with Lima at +160. This line has moved very close as well, with the Brit now just a -125 favorite over the Brazilian who checks in at +115. Finally, in a welterweight tilt, Trey Houston (10-1) looks to gain some footing in Bellator coming off a first round rear naked choke loss to Billy Horne at Bellator 78. Bellator proves once again that they have some interesting international scouting, digging up Luis Melo (28-11-3) from Brazil hot off a 2012 in which he won five fights in five months. Melo is clearly the more experienced fighter, and is well rounded with eleven knockouts and over a dozen submissions. He also opened as the favorite at -165, with Houston at +125. Although it was his lone loss, Houston is submittable, so the Brazilian may look to take the fight to the ground and deal with Houston’s game off his back. This is a a tough, close fight with little information on Melo, so we could be seeing the emergence of a new Bellator power at 170. Bettors have put their trust in the fighter they’ve seen more of however, and Houston has moved to an ever so slight -115 favorite, with Melo now a +105 underdog. Bellator 94 can be seen on Spike TV this Thursday night at 10pm, with the undercard airing on

Written by Jason Nawara

Leave a Reply

Bellator Betting Preview: Bellator 94 Picks VLOG Part 3

MMA Odds and Ends for Thursday: Bellator 94 Closing Odds & Results