The MMA odds and ends series is generally reserved for my thoughts about the UFC’s brand new bookings, but we can’t ignore Bellator. The Scott Coker-led marketing has shown some noteworthy bouts for the upcoming Bellator 222 card, and here are my initial thoughts on these matchups.
Chael Sonnen vs. Lyoto Machida, Bellator 222
Bellator 222 takes place June 14 at Madison Square Garden in New York , New York. The most important event is a light heavyweight bout between Chael Sonnen and Lyoto Machida. Have a look at my thoughts on this matchup at a previous odds and ends here.
Kyoji Horiguchi vs. Darion Caldwell 2, Bellator 222
Additionally added to Bellator 222 is a fascinating rematch between RIZIN bantamweight champion Kyoji Horiguchi and Bellator bantamweight champion Darrion Caldwell. These two fought at RIZIN’s New Year’s Eve event, with Horiguchi winning the fight by third-round submission. Horiguchi (27-2) will be making his Bellator introduction here riding a 12-fight win streak. He’s a perfect 9-0 in RIZIN, and is coming from a brilliant TKO win over former UFC fighter Ben Nguyen only a couple of weeks ago. Caldwell (13-2) is 10-1 overall in Bellator but has not fought since the reduction to Horiguchi in the RIZIN ring. The last time we saw Caldwell at Bellator he pumped out Noah Lahat past summer, and aside from a shocking submission defeat to Joe Taimanglo in 2016 he’s looked amazing in the Bellator cage. Still, you need to go with Horiguchi to acquire this rematch. There’s no reason to believe much has changed since the last time these two foughtand I’d anticipate Horiguchi for a sizeable popular this time around despite the fact he was an underdog 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) submitted Kyle Walker in his Bellator and MMA debut last April, but will be coming from a 14-month layoff within this bout. Humphrey (3-2) is making his Bellator debut after losing by knockout into a nobody in the regional scene in his last outing. It’s possible to view what Bellator is trying 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 made the official announcement that the fight was on. The Bellator welterweight name will be on the line at the semifinals of this Bellator welterweight grand prix. MacDonald (20-5-1) is 2-1-1 complete in Bellator and is coming from a vast majority draw to Jon Fitch, having advanced in the tournament because of a rule in which the winner advances in the event of a draw. MacDonald took quite a bit of harm in the Fitch fight and stated afterwards in his post-fight interview he does not have the drive to hurt his opponents that he once did. That’s about, and that makes you wonder whether he should be fighting so soon. He says he’s ready, but we will see. Gracie (9-0) is 7-0 in Bellator and overall has completed eight of his pro wins by entry. He’s coming from a fantastic win over Ed Ruth in the quarterfinals, and is a live dog here against MacDonald. I anticipate MacDonald to be preferred, but I would take a very long look at Gracie in this one as MacDonald needs to be faded at this time.
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