Bellator 109 Sneak Peak: Alexander "Tiger" Sarnavskiy (-195) vs. Will Brooks (+160)The fight that I'm most looking forward to at Bellator 109 is the season nine lightweight tournament final between Alexander "Tiger" Sarnavskiy and Will Brooks. Both men will be looking to capture their first Bellator tournament title. The current betting line for the fight at 5Dimes Sportsbook sees Sarnavskiy as a -195 favorite (bet $195 to win $100) while Brooks is a +160 dog (bet $100 to win $160). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas originally opened Sarnavskiy as a -210 favorite and Brooks as a +160 dog, and there has been back-and-forth action on both since the line opened which is why you see it about where it opened at. Personally though, I'm surprised that the betting public is split as I expected there to be more early action on Sarnavskiy, who I am definitely picking to win this fight. Here's why. Sarnavskiy (25-1) is one of the top lightweight prospects in the world, second only to Justin Gaethje of WSOF in my book. The 24-year-old Sarnavskiy is a finisher in every definition of the word, as he's recorded 15 submission wins and four knockouts in his young career, showing just how well-rounded he really is. Since coming over to Bellator from Russia, Sarnavskiy has gone 4-1, including three of those wins by way of submission. The lone loss in Bellator for Tiger came to veteran Rich Clementi. I actually bet on Clementi in that fight as a +300 underdog because I thought the line on Tiger was overinflated due to public hype, but since then I have picked Tiger to win all of his fights and he's done me right as he's won four in a row since the L to "No Love" last year. Brooks (12-1) has also been impressive in Bellator. The 27-year-old is, like Sarnavskiy, is 4-1 in Bellator, although unlike Sarnavskiy, Brooks has won three of those fights by decision. In his Bellator tenure Brooks has shown that he is very athletic and that he has solid wrestling. But he's also showed weaknesses, namely in his submission defence and in his chin, as he was flattened by Saad Awad earlier this year as a massive favorite. I actually bet on Awad in that fight as a +400 dog and was happy that ticket cashed, but since then I have mostly been picking Brooks to win all of his fights, except for the rematch with Awad which I was wrong about. Still, I feel that based on my betting experience with both of these fighters that I have a good read on this fight and I see Tiger getting his hand raised. I think the fight will stay standing and Sarnavskiy will land that knockout blow, but even if it goes to the ground I don't believe that Brooks' lay-and-pray style will work against a fighter with an ultra-dangerous guard like Sarnavskiy. At -195, I believe there is value on Sarnavskiy, and I like him in a two-team parlay with Rick Hawn. Yes, there is definitely the possibility that Brooks lies on his and grinds out a decision, but I think it's far more likely that Sarnavskiy gets the W as I believe he has more ways to win the fight. Since I am predicting a finish here, I'm also looking at UNDER 2.5 rounds, which currently pays out +110. I think this fight gets finished by either guy more often than not, so at plus money, it's worth a stab in my eyes. But either way I expect Tiger to get the job done here and earn his shot to fight either Eddie Alvarez or Michael Chandler for the Bellator lightweight title sometime in 2014.
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Mixed martial arts journalist. Lead writer for MMAOddsbreaker.com and also featured at @MMARatingsNet, @mmanews_com and @fightodds_io.
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