Bellator 97Bellator’s truncated summer series comes to a close this week with what may be the best card in the organization’s history. Champions Michael Chandler and Ben Askren defend their titles against David Rickels and Andrey Koreshkov, respectively. In addition, two title shots are up for grabs as the four-man heavyweight and light heavyweight tournaments conclude, with King Mo being the stand out competitor of the four remaining men. Rounding out the Spike TV portion of the card, due in large part to fan uproar, is Patricio ‘Pitbull’ Freire, a former tournament champion himself. Truly a stacked card which even carries forward to the Spike.com undercard which features prospects Bubba Jenkins, Will Brooks and Shawn Bunch all trying to further their careers. The undercard also has the semifinals of the bantamweight tournament, featuring Rodrigo Lima — who scored a victory over Ronnie Mann — and Anthony Leone — who defeated former Bellator 135lb champion Zach Makovsky. Despite all of the talent on this card however, the matchups may not be the most competitive ever. This was illustrated as MMA Oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened the betting lines for this card over at 5Dimes Sportsbook today. Take a look: ——————– Bellator Lightweight Title Michael Chandler -705 David Rickels +435 Bellator Welterweight Title Ben Askren -505 Andrey Koreshkov +335 Light-Heavyweight Tournament Final Muhammed Lawal -705 Jacob Noe +435 Heavyweight Tourney Final Vitaly Minakov -350 Ryan Martinez +250 Patricio Freire -420 Jared Downing +300 ——————– BELLATOR-97 PRELIMINARY CARD (Spike.com, 6 p.m. ET) Cris Leyva +700 Will Brooks -1500 Bantamweight Tournament Semifinal Rafael Silva +265 Rodrigo Lima -385 Bantamweight Tournament Semifinal Frank Baca +160 Anthony Leone -210 Mike Barreras +800 Bubba Jenkins -1700 ——————– Brad’s Analysis: First thought, “Damn those are some steep lines, nobody under -350?” After further analysis however, I can’t argue with a single one of those lines. Ryan Martinez looks to have the best shot to win his fight because of his punching power and Vitaly Minakov’s relative inexperience, but I’m not willing to bet Martinez in this spot. The same goes for David Rickels (who I feel will be outmatched in every facet of his fight against Michael Chandler), Andrey Koreshkov (who looks like a tempting bet, and will continue to do so until about 15 seconds into his fight with Ben Askren, when he finds himself on his back), and Jacob Noe (who has seriously pissed Mo Lawal off, and doesn’t have the overall tools to back that up). I left Jared Downing out of that group because I think he’s a quality fighter who is simply faced with a horrible style matchup here. Downing made a surprisingly good account of himself against Lance Palmer at an RFA card recently, but while he’s probably overall the better wrestler, ‘Pitbull’ has excellent takedown defence and has Downing outgunned badly on the feet. Overall, I don’t think it’s going to be a good night for the dogs. In fact, I’d go so far as to say I’d rather lay my money on a parlay of all five favorites, which pays +148 based on these opening lines, rather than hoping one of the dogs comes through. If the card plays up to the lines set out here, we may not be in store for the most competitive night of fights, but we should at least get some highlight reel finishes.


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