The MMA odds and ends series is usually reserved for my thoughts about the UFC’s brand new reservations, but we can not dismiss Bellator. The Scott Coker-led marketing has revealed some noteworthy bouts for the approaching Bellator 222 card, and below are my initial thoughts on these matchups.
Chael Sonnen vs. Lyoto Machida, Bellator 222
Bellator 222 occurs June 14 in Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York. The most important event is a light heavyweight bout between Chael Sonnen and Lyoto Machida. Check out my thoughts on this matchup in a preceding odds and ends here.
Kyoji Horiguchi vs. Darion Caldwell two, Bellator 222
Also added to Bellator 222 is an intriguing rematch between RIZIN bantamweight champion Kyoji Horiguchi and Bellator bantamweight champion Darrion Caldwell. These two fought RIZIN’s New Year’s Eve event, with Horiguchi winning the struggle by third-round submission. Horiguchi (27-2) will soon be creating his Bellator debut here riding a 12-fight win series. He is a perfect 9-0 in RIZIN, and is coming from a brilliant TKO win over former UFC fighter Ben Nguyen only a few weeks ago. Caldwell (13-2) is 10-1 overall in Bellator but hasn’t fought since the loss to Horiguchi in the RIZIN ring. The last time we saw Caldwell in Bellator he knocked out Noah Lahat last summer, and aside from a shocking entry defeat to Joe Taimanglo in 2016 he’s looked amazing in the Bellator cage. Still, you need to go with Horiguchi to win this rematch. There is no reason to think much has changed since the last time these two foughtand I’d expect Horiguchi to be a sizeable popular this time around despite the fact that he was an underdog the first time these two met.
Dillon Danis vs. Max Humphrey, Bellator 222
At the same time, a catchweight (175lbs) bout between Dillon Danis and Max Humphrey occurs at Bellator 222. Dannis (1-0) filed Kyle Walker in his Bellator and MMA debut last April, but will be coming off of a 14-month layoff into this bout. Humphrey (3-2) is creating his Bellator introduction after losing by knockout into some nobody on the regional arena in his last outing. It’s possible to see what Bellator is hoping to do here by reserving this mismatch, and Dannis will be a big favorite for the win.
Rory MacDonald vs. Neiman Gracie, Bellator 222
We were not positive if Rory MacDonald would be ready to fight Neiman Gracie, but Bellator created the official announcement that the fight was on. The Bellator welterweight name will be on the line in the semifinals of this Bellator welterweight grand prix. MacDonald (20-5-1) is 2-1-1 overall in Bellator and is coming from a vast majority attraction to Jon Fitch, having advanced from the tournament because of a rule in which the champion advances in the event of a draw. MacDonald took quite a bit of harm in the Fitch struggle and said afterwards in his post-fight interview he doesn’t possess the drive to hurt his opponents he did. That is about, and makes you wonder whether he needs to be fighting so soon. He says he’s ready, but we will see. Gracie (9-0) is 7-0 in Bellator and overall has finished eight of his pro wins by entry. He’s coming from a great win over Ed Ruth from the quarterfinals, and is a live dog here against MacDonald. I expect MacDonald to be preferred, but I would take a long look at Gracie in this one as MacDonald has to be faded at this time.
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