The MMA odds and ends series is usually earmarked for my thoughts on the UFC’s new reservations, but we can not ignore Bellator. The Scott Coker-led marketing has revealed some notable bouts for the approaching Bellator 222 card, and here are my first thoughts on such matchups.
Chael Sonnen vs. Lyoto Machida, Bellator 222
Bellator 222 takes place June 14 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York. The most important event is a light heavyweight bout between Chael Sonnen and Lyoto Machida. Check out my thoughts on this matchup at a previous odds and ends here.
Kyoji Horiguchi vs. Darion Caldwell two, Bellator 222
Also added to Bellator 222 is a fascinating rematch between RIZIN bantamweight champion Kyoji Horiguchi and Bellator bantamweight champion Darrion Caldwell. These two fought RIZIN’s New Year’s Eve event, together with Horiguchi winning the struggle by third-round submission. Horiguchi (27-2) will soon be making his Bellator introduction here riding a 12-fight win streak. He is a perfect 9-0 at RIZIN, also is coming from a brilliant TKO win over former UFC fighter Ben Nguyen only a few weeks ago. Caldwell (13-2) is 10-1 overall in Bellator but hasn’t fought since the loss to Horiguchi from the RIZIN ring. The last time we watched Caldwell at Bellator he pumped out Noah Lahat last summer, and aside from a shocking entry defeat to Joe Taimanglo in 2016 he has looked amazing at the Bellator cage. Nevertheless, you have to go together with Horiguchi to win this rematch. There’s no reason to think much has changed since the last time these two fought, and I would anticipate Horiguchi to be a sizeable popular this time around despite the fact he was an underdog the first time these two met.
Dillon Danis vs. Max Humphrey, Bellator 222
At the same time, a catchweight (175lbs) bout between Dillon Danis and Max Humphrey takes place at Bellator 222. Dannis (1-0) filed Kyle Walker in his Bellator and MMA debut last April, but will probably be coming off of a 14-month layoff into this bout. Humphrey (3-2) is creating his Bellator debut after losing by knockout into some nobody in the regional scene in his last outing. It’s possible to view what Bellator is hoping to do here by booking this mismatch, and Dannis will be a huge favorite to get the win.
Rory MacDonald vs. Neiman Gracie, Bellator 222
We weren’t positive if Rory MacDonald would be ready to fight Neiman Gracie, but Bellator made the official announcement that the fight was on. The Bellator welterweight name is going to be on the line in the semifinals of the Bellator welterweight grand prix. MacDonald (20-5-1) is 2-1-1 complete in Bellator and is coming off of a majority attraction to Jon Fitch, having advanced from the tournament due to a rule where the champion advances in the event of a draw. MacDonald took quite a bit of damage in the Fitch fight and stated later in his post-fight interview that he does not possess the drive to hurt his opponents that he once did. That’s concerning, and makes you wonder if he should be fighting so soon. He says he is ready, but we will see. Gracie (9-0) is 7-0 in Bellator and overall has finished eight of his ace wins by entry. He is coming off of a fantastic win over Ed Ruth from the quarterfinals, and is a live puppy here against MacDonald. I expect MacDonald to be preferred, but I would have a very long look at Gracie in this one as MacDonald has to be faded at this point.
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