Bellator 222 Betting Odds and Analysis: MacDonald vs. Gracie, Sonnen vs. Machida, More
Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Bellator 170-pound champion Rory Macdonald
- See the betting odds for Bellator 222's main card including the Welterweight World Grand Prix matchup between Rory MacDonald and Neiman Gracie.
There will be fists, elbows, knees and feet flying inside Madison Square Garden Friday night at Bellator 222. Action will get started with a 12-fight preliminary card at 6:30 p.m. EST followed by a six-fight main card at 10 p.m.
All main card fights are available exclusively on DAZN, while the prelims will be available on MMA Junkie.
The main event features the second round of Bellator’s Welterweight World Grand Prix. Reigning 170-pound champion Rory MacDonald will face off against undefeated jiu-jitsu submission artist Neiman Gracie.
The co-main event also has the look of a compelling matchup, as ‘The Bad Guy’ Chael Sonnen and former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida will meet in a three-round battle at 205 pounds.
Let’s go over the event’s top fights and take a look at some early line movement.
Rory MacDonald (-160) vs. Neiman Gracie (+130)
MacDonald enjoyed an incredibly successful UFC career before making his Bellator debut in May, 2017. His title fight loss against Robbie Lawler at UFC 189 is considered one of the best fights of all time, and he holds victories over current UFC stars such as Tyron Woodley (No. 1 ranked UFC Welterweight), Demian Maia (No. 12) and Nate Diaz.
MacDonald has demonstrated the ability to toss around a high-level jiu-jitsu black belt before, specifically against Diaz back at UFC 129. The destruction sent Stockton, California’s finest back to 155 pounds for nearly five years.
‘The Red King’ is 2-1-1 since joining Bellator, defeating Paul Daley (via second-round rear-naked choke) in his debut before capturing the championship from Douglas Lima in a thrilling five-round unanimous decision. MacDonald then attempted to win Bellator’s middleweight title and become a ‘Champ-Champ’, but fellow UFC-veteran Gegard Mousasi put an end to those dreams with a vicious second-round TKO (punches and elbows).
The result from MacDonald’s latest matchup is likely what has Nieman Gracie feeling confident, as plenty of media members scored MacDonald’s majority draw against Jon Fitch as a victory for the latter fighter. MacDonald’s post-fight comments certainly didn’t seem to resemble the same cold-blooded assassin we once saw inside the Octagon.
Gracie certainly isn’t the type of opponent that you want to be unmotivated against. The multiple-time jiu-jitsu champion is a second-degree black belt in the art and has racked up a submission victory in eight of his nine professional fights.
Gracie’s last victory came in the first round of the Welterweight Grand Prix against undefeated All-American wrestler Ed Ruth by way of rear-naked choke in the fourth round. Gracie closed as a +270 underdog in the matchup.
There are both physical and mental questions facing MacDonald ahead of Friday night’s matchup, but early bettors seem to favor his chances. Overall, MacDonald has moved from a -145 favorite to -165.
Lyoto Machida (-355) vs. Chael Sonnen (+265)
The co-main event of Bellator 222 pits a pair of veterans that have fought all over the globe during their respective careers.
Machida (41-years-old) has managed to capture three victories since last February, with two coming by way of split decision. ‘The Dragon’ did remind us that he’s still plenty capable of delivering a knockout blow during his final UFC fight against Vitor Belfort back in May, 2018.
Meanwhile, Sonnen (42-years-old) spent his last two fights in the Heavyweight Grand Prix, defeating Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson by unanimous decision before losing to Fedor Emelianenko via TKO (punches) in the semifinals. ‘The American Gangster’ will undoubtedly look to take the fight to the ground and impose his wrestling on Machida, who holds a major advantage on the feet when it comes to technical striking.
Odds have been flying in Machida’s favor across the market since opening.
Other notable fights at Bellator 222
- Dillon Danis (-800) vs. Max Humphrey (+500): Danis has a minuscule 1-0 record, but landed a spot on the main card thanks in large part to his alliance with teammate Conor McGregor. He’ll look to utilize his world-class jiu-jitsu against Humphrey (3-2 record) as quickly as possible before likely having plenty to say on the microphone afterwards. Danis opened as a fairly mild -475 favorite before ballooning up to his current mark.
- Darrion Caldwell (-155) vs. Kyoji Horiguchi (+125): Caldwell (13-2 record) will look to defend his Bantamweight Championship against Horiguchi (27-2). This will be their second championship matchup in less than a year, as Horiguchi defeated Caldwell via third-round submission (guillotine choke) last December for the Rizin Bantamweight Championship.
- Aaron Pico vs. Adam Borics: Pico (4-2 record) will look to regain his status as one of Bellator’s brightest young prospects fewer than five months after he was viciously knocked out by Henry Corrales back at Bellator 214. Pico’s hype comes from his status as a high school national championship wrestler and Junior Golden Gloves champion, but Borics (8-0 with six finishes) doesn’t figure to be a cake walk.