MMA fans will have many choices for Friday night viewing, as Bellator, Titan FC, and Legacy FC all have cards overlapping to kick off the weekend. Bellator 126 is the highest profile of the three cards and it should be a good one, with a title fight and a tournament final taking place. In the main event, Bellator’s middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko looks to right the ship following his extremely disappointing performance against Tito Ortiz at the company’s May pay-per-view. He faces recent tournament winner Brandon Halsey who looked increasingly impressive in capturing the $100,000 and title shot. Shlemenko’s weakness in the grappling department has come to light more in his past two bouts, and that’s Halsey’s strength, so there’s a very real chance a new champion is crowned. The co-main event will determine the next challenger for either Will Brooks or Michael Chandler, as it features the tournament final between Marcin Held and Patricky ‘Pitbull’ Freire. Held is still incredibly young, and even more dangerous especially on the mat. He’s rounded out his game as well, but he’ll still be at a disadvantage — particularly in the power department — on the feet. Freire will look to build on the success of his brother Patricio, the new featherweight champion, and earn his crack at a Bellator belt. Also on the card are Bellator stalwarts Bubba Jenkins, Mike Richman (making his debut at bantamweight), and Ed West. MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened the betting lines for Bellator 126 at 5Dimes Sportsbook today. Take a look: ——————– MAIN CARD (Spike TV, 9pm ET) Bellator Middleweight Title Alexander Shlemenko -190 Brandon Halsey +150 Lightweight Tournament Final Marcin Held -140 Patricky Freire +100 Bubba Jenkins -505 Thiago Meller +335 Mike Richman -300 Ed West +220 ——————– Brad’s Analysis: Brandon Halsey is a very, very tempting play on this card. Not only was Alexander Shlemenko submitted with ease by Tito Ortiz, but Brennan Ward dominated him in the first round with grappling. I think Halsey’s wrestling and submission game are better at this point than both of those fighters, and I really think he’s going to be the new champion. At any dog price, I like a play on Halsey. The lightweight final between Held and ‘Pitbull’ is a bit more competitive, but I think Held’s consistent improvements will carry him to victory. On the ground he’s going to have a significant advantage, and Patricky will slow down at some point which should allow Held to either get it to the ground or start to pile up some points on the feet. Close to a pick ’em I like Held for a play, but I’m not sure how I’d feel if the line reached, say, -200. Bubba Jenkins is going to struggle most against guys who can defend his takedowns and punish him on the feet. Thiago Meller, while one of the more skilled fighters Jenkins has faced, isn’t that type of fighter. If Jenkins wants to get this to the ground, he will, and Meller isn’t so good on the ground that he will be able to find a submission from his back. Mike Richman dropping down to 135 is interesting, but I don’t think it’s going to fix all of his problems. If he can carry his power down to the new division that will be dangerous for anyone in the cage with him, but he needs to make sure he can keep his activity level up. Against a fighter like Ed West who uses all kinds of movement and keeps a very high pace, Richman could be in a bit of trouble if he doesn’t find the KO. If this line gets bet up towards Richman, I may have to throw a flier on West.
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