On Friday, April 2nd, Bellator will be live from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, for their first event of 2021 – Bellator 255: Freire vs Sanchez II which begins at 9pm ET on Showtime. A seven fight preliminary card will begin at 6pm ET.
The main event of the night is a featherweight grand prix semifinal matchup between Patricio Freire and Emmanuel Sanchez in a rematch from their 2018 encounter. Freire’s featherweight title will also be on the line.
The co-featured bout will see the unbeaten Usman Nurmagomedov take on Mike Hamel. Also in action are Neiman Gracie, Kana Watanabe, Alejandra Lara, and Tyrell Fortune.
Bellator betting sites have released odds for the entire Bellator 255 main card. Let’s step inside the betting octagon to examine these odds, identify any potential value, and dirty box are way to a TKO victory over these predictions.
Matt Mitrione out of #Bellator255 fight vs. Tyrell Fortune (via @mma_kings) https://t.co/nutRBaaxxQ
— MMA Junkie (@MMAjunkie) March 28, 2021
Jack May vs Tyrell Fortune
Jack May (+450)
Tyrell Fortune (-700)
This bout was originally set to be Matt Mitrione versus Tyrell Fortune. However, Mitrione withdrew from the fight and Jack May agreed to fill in on less than one week’s notice.
This is a rematch from their Bellator 245 fight from September 2020 which ended in a No Contest after an accidental knee to the groin.
May has lost four of his last six fights and is 1-0-1 in Bellator. His first fight for the promotion was January 2017 where he beat Dave Cryer via 1st round TKO. His second Bellator contest was against Fortune last September.
Eight of his 11 pro wins have come via TKO/KO. He’s 3-1 when going the distance. Six of his seven pro losses have come via stoppage with four by way of TKO/KO.
Fortune has been with Bellator since his pro debut in November 2016. He started off 8-0 before suffering his first pro loss in February 2020 via 1st round KO to Timothy Johnson. His next bout was against Jack May in September 2020.
Fortunate got back in the cage in November 2020 where he beat Said Sowma via unanimous decision. Six of his nine pro wins have come via stoppage with five by way of TKO/KO. He’s 3-0 when going the distance.
Although he won’t get to face Mitrione, there’s two other former UFC fighters that Fortune would love to fight in Junior dos Santos and Alistair Overeem:
“I was honestly considering bringing them up after I won the fight [at Bellator 255] and got an interview. I think one of them, if not both, will be signed. I think it kind of depends on their career and what they are looking at and want they want to do. I would definitely be excited and would love to welcome them both, if not one of them to Bellator, because they’re legends of the sport. They have the name, you know. If you want a name you gotta fight somebody with a name.”
There’s no doubt that both fighters would be great additions to Bellator’s roster and heavyweight division. With that said, Fortune does need to focus on this fight first.
Fortunately, he has a very winnable matchup in a limited fighter. I expect Fortune to dominate this contest and score the TKO/KO victory. Keep an eye out for the prop of Fortune winning via TKO/KO as it will offer far better value than his moneyline.
Jack May vs Tyrell Fortune –Fortune (-700)
Kana Watanabe vs Alejandra Lara
Kana Watanabe (+145)
Alejandra Lara (-165)
Over (-255)/Under (+195) 2.5 rounds
Kana Watanabe returns to the Bellator cage for the first time since December 2019 when she made a successful cross-promotional outing by defeating Ilara Joanne via 3rd round TKO.
Since her fight against Joanne was while she was still under contract with Rizin, this weekend’s contest against Lara will be her official Bellator debut.
Prior to joining Bellator, Watanabe had successful stints with Rizin and Deep. Six of her nine pro wins have come via stoppage with three apiece for submission and TKO/KO. She’s 3-0-1 when going the distance.
Lara has been with Bellator since late 2017 where she won her debut via 3rd round submission against lena Ovchynnikova in December 2017.
Finally, it is once again a @kanawatanabe821 (and Bellator) fight week. #Bellator255 pic.twitter.com/n1ZTqxeUka
— Drake Riggs (@DrakeRiggs_) March 29, 2021
She would then drop two fights in a row to some of the division’s top fighters like Ilima-Lei Macfarlane and Julian Velasquez.
Lara was able to bounce back from those two defeats to win two in a row with a 1st round TKO victory over Taylor Turner in August 2019 and a unanimous decision win over Veta Arteaga in December 2019. This is her first fight since then.
Seven of her nine pro wins have come via stoppage with four by way of TKO/KO. She’s 2-2 when going the distance.
Lara made the following comments about this Friday’s matchup against Watanabe:
“I feel it’s a good match-up for me, and to keep my top [spot] in the rankings. What does she need to watch out for from Watanabe? One area stands out. “Definitely her judo. She has a very strong judo base, she takes all [her] opponents to the ground very easily. So of course that’s what we’re working on, [for] the game plan, to avoid that.”
This is going to be a solid contest as both women are skilled fighters. With that said, I like Watanabe in this matchup. I believe she will get the fight to the mat where she will control the action.
I’m split on how this bout will end, but I am going to side with the online betting sites by taking the Over 2.5 rounds (-255) and for this fight to go the distance (-215). Eight of their 21 total pro fights have gone the distance.
I’m going with Watanabe to win this contest via decision (+250). I think her elite judo skills are going to be the difference in this fight. The best value is Watanabe’s moneyline at +145 odds.
Kana Watanabe vs Alejandra Lara –Watanabe (+145)
Over 2.5 rounds (-255)
Over 2.5 rounds (-255)
Fight goes the distance (-215)
Watanabe wins via decision (+250)
Neiman Gracie vs Jason Jackson
Neiman Gracie (-110)
Jason Jackson (-110)
Over (-170)/Under (+140) 1.5 rounds
This fight has the closest betting odds for the entire Bellator 255 event.
Jackson is coming off the biggest win of his career when he defeated Benson Henderson via unanimous decision last November. It’s his 3rd win in a row and he’s now 4-1 in Bellator. His lone loss in the promotion came against Ed Ruth in October 2019.
Seven of his 13 pro wins have come via stoppage with four by way of TKO/KO. He’s 6-2 when going the distance.
Jackson shared his view on the fight against Gracie and how it’s a big fight for him:
“I have to be Jason Jacks and fight the way I know how to. Be stingy, move my feet, and fight (Gracie) on every position. Don’t give up any position. Don’t give him anything. Make him do something out of his comfort zone. I want to put a stamp on this one. It’s a really big fight for me. I can’t let this big opportunity get away; to get a Gracie under my belt; and get a big name, somebody who has competed for the (title) under my belt.”
Gracie has spent nine of his 11 pro fights with Bellator since debuting six years ago at Bellator 134. He won nine fights in a row before suffering the first loss of his career which came via unanimous decision against Rory MacDonald in June 2019.
Gracie last fought in September 2020 where he beat the veteran Jon Fitch via 2nd round submission. Nine of his 10 pro wins have come via submission. He’s 1-1 when going the distance.
I give credit to Jackson for his big win last year against Henderson, but Benson is past his prime whereas Gracie is still in his prime.
Neiman is a master submission artist with top notch jiu-jitsu skills. However, he’s showed an ability to stand and strike. This well-rounded attack is going to give Gracie the win on Friday.
Take Gracie to score the submission win Over 1.5 rounds (-170), but inside the distance (-170). The best value is each fighter’s moneyline.
Neiman Gracie vs Jason Jackson –Gracie (-110)
Over 1.5 rounds (-170)
Fight ends inside the distance (-170)
Usman Nurmagomedov vs Mikel Hamel
Usman Nurmagomedov (-800)
Mike Hamel (+550)
Over (-125)/Under (-105) 1.5 rounds
Hamel started off his career going 5-0, but has gone 2-4 since then. Three of those losses came in LFA while the 4th loss came in his Bellator debut against Adam Borics in August 2020 via split decision. It was a solid performance for Hamel against a tough striker.
Three of his seven pro wins have come via TKO/KO. He’s 4-1 when going the distance.
Hamel isn’t buying the hype behind Nurmagomedov. In fact, he had some pretty comical comments regarding his upcoming opponent at Bellator 255:
“He’s got a lot of hype behind him. He’s got the pretty typical padded Russian record, fought tomato cans his whole career. This will be his first big fight, big fight in America. We’ll see how he reacts. He could have King Kong in his corner, I’m not fighting King Kong. I won’t have Khabib on top of me, I’ll have his little weaker cousin.”
For Nurmagomedov, this is his first fight in Bellator and in America. He last competed in September 2020 and won via 2nd round TKO.
Who is ready to see Usman Nurmagomedov in a Bellator cage? ?
The undefeated lightweight (11-0) makes his highly-anticipated debut in next month’s HUGE #Bellator255 event ?? pic.twitter.com/hF3Zkm2STf
— Bellator Europe (@Bellator_Europe) March 24, 2021
Usman has won five straight fights via stoppage with the last four in a row coming via TKO/KO. 10 of his 11 pro wins have come via stoppage with seven by way of TKO/KO.
Despite not being Khabib, Usman is still a Nurmagomedov and he’s still a solid grappler. Hamel might be a tough out, but he doesn’t have the overall skillset to beat Nurmagomedov.
I like the Over 1.5 rounds (-125) as Hamel has gone the distance in five of his 11 pro bouts. However, I don’t see this fight going the full 15 minutes (-210) as Nurmagomedov will wear down Hamel and eventually put him away in the 3rd round.
The best value for this fight is Usman winning inside the distance a-150 odds. That’s a big shave off of his moneyline.
Usman Nurmagomedov vs Mikel Hamel –Nurmagomedov (-800)
Over 1.5 rounds (-125)
Fight ends inside the distance (-210)
Nurmagomedov wins inside the distance (-150)
Patricio Freire vs Emmanuel Sanchez
Patricio Freire (-255)
Emmanuel Sanchez (+215)
As mentioned, this is a rematch from their 2018 fight where Freire won via unanimous decision. This is also the semifinals of the featherweight grand prix. The winner will not only move on to the finals of the tournament to take on AJ McKee, but he will also win the Bellator featherweight title.
Since their first fight, Sanchez has gone on to win three fights in a row. He defeated Tywan Claxton via submission in the beginning of the tournament and then went on to defeat Daniel Weichel via decision last November in the quarterfinals.
Sanchez avenged a loss to Weichel in June 2016. He’s now 12-3 in Bellator. Nine of his 20 pro wins have come via stoppage with eight by way of submission. He’s 11-4 when going the distance.
1️⃣ WEEK TO GO!@PatricioPitbull and Emmanuel Sanchez look to book their place in the #FeatherweightWGP Final. They collide in the #Bellator255 main event live on @BBCiPlayer ?? pic.twitter.com/getXMAllwt
— Bellator Europe (@Bellator_Europe) March 25, 2021
The champ-champ Patricio “Pitbull” Freire has won six straight fights since his TKO loss to Benson Henderson in August 2016. Freire had suffered a leg injury.
His tournament wins have come via decision over Juan Archuleta in the opening round and a 1st round KO against Pedro Carvalho last November in the quarterfinals.
22 of his 31 pro wins have come via stoppage with 11 apiece for submission and TKO/KO. He’s 9-3 when going the distance. His lone stoppage was the injury that resulted in a TKO.
Freire is super motivated for this rematch and is aiming to finish off Sanchez this time around:
“He has been talking ever since we fought. He seems to celebrate the fact that I didn’t finish him in our first fight. Sanchez is a good guy, but he has been talking too much and I’ll shut him up. If he wants to get finished so badly, I will give him what he wants. It is a personal desire of mine to not let guys stay 25 minutes with me,” Pitbull continued. “I’m the best fighter on the planet, I will show it here and I will finish him.”
Sanchez is a good fighter, but everything that he does, Freire does better. There’s no reason to think that this fight won’t turn out the same as the first one.
In their first fight, Sanchez came out aggressive and pressured Freire. But, the champ was able to pace himself, land the harder strikes, and win the final two rounds to capture the decision victory.
This time around, I see Freire winning more convincingly as he’s the top pound for pound fighter in Bellator. Sanchez has never been stopped before. Although Freire is aiming for the finish, I think Sanchez will survive, but the scorecards won’t be as close as their first encounter.
Take the Over 4.5 rounds (-170) and for the fight to go the full 25 minutes (-175). Freire winning via decision has value at +120 odds.
Patricio Freire vs Emmanuel Sanchez –Freire (-255)
Over 4.5 rounds (-170)
Fight goes the distance (-175)
Freire wins via decision (+120)
As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at GamblingSites.org to become the self-professed “King of the Blog” in his first year with the site. …
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