This weekend, Bellator will be the focus of the MMA world. The timing of their first event in 2017 coincides perfectly with a gap in the UFC schedule, and the Viacom promotion will put one of its biggest promotional cards forward, as former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz takes on multiple-time UFC title challenger Chael Sonnen in a light heavyweight showdown. It’s somewhat amazing that Ortiz is still headlining cards in 2017, and people are still interested enough to watch — even if the curiosity is somewhat morbid at this point. Sonnen, for all of his performance-enhancing faults, is the perfect dance partner for Ortiz promotionally. Supposedly, Bellator has even enacted strict drug-testing with the threat of a $500,000 fine for Sonnen should he fail any tests leading up to, or after this fight as well. While Ortiz-Sonnen is what will grab the headlines and bring in viewers, the rest of Bellator 170 can hold its own. Welterweights Paul Daley and Brennan Ward will collide and likely won’t take long to settle their contest. Ward has seen just one of his 18 career bouts make it into the third round while Daley’s striking has earned him TKOs in 28 of his 38 victories. In a truly Bellatorian booking, Ralek Gracie makes his return to MMA after a six-and-a-half year absence, as he takes on Hisaki Kato in a throwback-style clash. The Spike TV main card is rounded out with a pair of solid bouts. Featherweights Georgi Karakhanyan and Emmanuel Sanchez will jockey for their place in the division, as each has stumbled against both Pat Curran and Daniel Weichel over the past couple of years. Finally, Derek Anderson and Derek Campos hope to navigate their way to a title shot in Bellator’s lightweight division. The betting odds for the main event have been released for some time, and they currently see Sonnen as a -170 favorite (bet $170 to win $100) over Ortiz (+150). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened the betting odds for the remaining Bellator 170 main card bouts today at 5Dimes Sportsbook. Take a look… ——————– Bellator 170: Ortiz vs. Sonnen JANUARY 21, 2017 The Forum | Inglewood, California MAIN CARD (Spike TV, 9pm ET) Tito Ortiz +180 Chael Sonnen -260 Over 2.5 -125 Under 2.5 -115 – Brennan Ward +130 Paul Daley -170 Over 1.5 +145 Under 1.5 -185 – Ralek Gracie +175 Hisaki Kato -245 Over 1.5 +130 Under 1.5 -170 – Emmanuel Sanchez +125 Georgi Karakhanyan -165 Over 2.5 -230 Under 2.5 +170 – Derek Campos +170 Derek Anderson -230 Over 1.5 -165 Under 1.5 +125 – ——————– Brad’s Analysis: Daley can certainly still be stymied by grapplers and will even find himself struggling with more tactical strikers at this point in his career, but when he gets a matchup against a wild brawler, look out. Ward is going to come forward aggressively, and he’s going to eat a big shot in that one. Considering Ward’s chin has been cracked on a few occasions, that’s not a good sign for him. I expect another Ward Under to come through regardless of who wins, but Daley certainly seems the more likely option to me. Kato can wrestle a bit, but he only does so to allow himself to strike. He’s also been competing against legitimate fighters. Even when he was toying with actually doing MMA, Gracie wasn’t particularly good. In fact, in the tragic demise of Kazushi Sakuraba’s career, Gracie was the last fighter who WASN’T able to finish the broken down legend. Kato is going to keep this upright and get rid of Gracie quickly. And hey, doesn’t Ralek owe me $1,000? Sanchez is the type of fighter who makes every fight close. And even when he doesn’t make fights close, the judges seem to think they are anyways. He’s Bellator’s version of Diego Sanchez. Karakhanyan has been prone to giving fights away before, and he doesn’t consistently score points while searching for an opportunity to finish. That recipe makes me nervous for Karakhanyan as a favorite here, as I think he’ll struggle to finish Sanchez and could end up dropping a decision. I’ll have to wait to see how much respect Karakhanyan gets from the public before I make a move on Sanchez though. Primus — a fighter who I consider a better overall grappler than Derek Campos — just struggled mightily to score a win over Anderson. Considering Campos has been spending more time on his feet anyways recently, I don’t like this matchup for him. I think he hangs around a little too long on the feet, takes some damage, and I could even picture him telegraphing a desperate takedown into a knee. That’s getting pretty specific, but even if that sequence doesn’t happen, I think Anderson can stay off his back long enough to pick up the win here.
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