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Bellator 285 Best Bets: Benson Henderson, Yoel Romero, Leah McCourt Among Top Picks for Friday Afternoon

Bellator 285 Best Bets: Benson Henderson, Yoel Romero, Leah McCourt Among Top Picks for Friday Afternoon article feature image
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David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile via Getty Images. Pictured: Bellator lightweight Benson Henderson

  • Bellator 285 takes place in Dublin on Friday and starts at a special time of 1 p.m. ET.
  • Featured bouts include Peter Queally vs. Benson Henderson and Yoel Romero vs. Melvin Manhoef.
  • Check out our MMA team's best bets for the card below.

With a rare off-week for the UFC, Bellator gets the MMA world’s attention this week with Friday afternoon’s Bellator 285.

The overseas show takes place at the 3Arena in Dublin. The preliminary card streams on YouTube beginning at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT), and Showtime carries the main card at 4 p.m. ET.

The Irish event features 13 bouts, including a headliner between lightweights Peter Queally (13-6-1) and Benson Henderson (29-11), as well a co-main event with light heavyweights Yoel Romero (14-6) vs. Melvin Manhoef (32-15-1).

The full card includes:

MAIN CARD (Showtime, 4 p.m. ET)

  • Peter Queally vs. Benson Henderson
  • Yoel Romero vs. Melvin Manhoef
  • Leah McCourt vs. Dayana Silva
  • Mads Burnell vs. Pedro Carvalho
  • Ciaran Clarke vs. Rafael Hudson

PRELIMINARY CARD (YouTube, 1 p.m. ET)

  • Brett Johns vs. Jordan Winski
  • Brian Moore vs. Arivaldo Silva
  • Karl Albrektsson vs. Karl Moore
  • Darragh Kelly vs. Kye Stevens
  • Georgi Karakhanyan vs. Kane Mousah
  • Kenny Mokhonoana vs. Alex Bodnar
  • Asael Adjoudj vs. Jordan Barton
  • Luca Poclit vs. Dante Shiro

So where should you be looking to place your bets? Our crew has pinpointed five fights from Friday’s card that present betting value.


Manpreet Jhass: Peter Queally vs. Benson Henderson

Contributor at The Action Network and MMA content creator

It’s crazy to see Benson Henderson, at the wise age of 38, still headlining a Bellator event. Not just headlining, but going to his opponent’s home turf to battle him in hostile territory.

In his home country, Peter Queally will be looking to add an MMA legend’s name to his win column.

Henderson comes in as a healthy -175 favorite, and rightfully so. When Henderson is on, he can mix his volume striking with his Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and put on a great all-around mixed martial arts performance. He has shown even at this stage in his career, he can be competitive against some of the best talent that Bellator has to offer.

Queally is looking to rebound from his first-ever Bellator title fight, in which Patricky Pitbull finished him in Round 2, which also went down in Queally’s home country. When at his best, Queally can put together combinations and decimate opponents on the feet. He uses his range decently when opponents allow him to work in the striking realm.

Where things start getting too tough for Queally is when his opponents look to grapple him. Henderson’s wrestling and BJJ are high-level enough to win fights by submission or grinding out his opponents from top position to get the decision.

Henderson is far superior on the mat, and given how competitive he was in his last fight against a 20-1-1 prospect, I have almost no question in my mind he can do that once again – but maybe even more dominantly.

The five-round nature of this fight benefits Henderson; he has made a living off of five-round fights throughout his illustrious career, which included UFC and WEC title reigns. Look for Henderson to grind down Queally and eventually find a submission in the main-event rounds, maybe even as early as Round 3.

I’d bet Henderson’s moneyline up to -250. A little chalky, but there is a clear skill difference here that will be clear once the fight hits the mat.

If you want to get a little extra greedy, his submission prop is hanging around +600 at BetRivers. Worth a poke!

The Pick: Benson Henderson (-175 at DraftKings)


Ben Fowlkes: Yoel Romero vs. Melvin Manhoef

Contributor at The Action Network and cohost of the Co-Main Event Podcast

When I look at Bellator 285’s co-main event fight between Yoel Romero, who is 45 freakin’ years old, and Melvin Manhoef, who is 46, what I see is a contest brimming with maturity.

Two gentlemen of a certain age, peers within the fight game, meeting in a fight that seems like it was made in a video game by a 12-year-old who just wanted to guarantee that someone gets knocked out.

Sometimes those can be tough fights to call due to the matchup’s inherent, uh, volatility. But looking at where both these guys are and where they’ve been, it seems very likely to me that Manhoef is going to sleep.

He’ll make Romero earn it, of course. And he’ll be dangerous right up until the end (but especially at the very beginning). But I just don’t see how he beats the bigger, stronger, more well-rounded Romero, except by the miracle of one clean shot – which, don’t get me wrong, Manhoef is always a threat to land.

But this version of Romero? He’s careful and he’s patient (sometimes too patient).

That’s honestly the one thing that scared me off the otherwise pretty attractive +140 line from DraftKings on Romero via TKO/KO/DQ in the opening round. I just don’t see Romero being in that big of a hurry, especially against a little ball of fury like Manhoef.

Romero has been known to spend whole rounds basically screwing around. What he doesn’t have are a ton of first-round finishes – none, in fact, since his crazy jumping-knee KO to announce his arrival in the UFC in 2013.

That’s why the bet I really like here is Romero via TKO/KO/DQ in Round 2, which you can get +450 odds on via DraftKings.

If you want a little extra security, FanDuel will give you a similar +430 line that covers you for Romero via any method in the second frame. (Who knows, maybe it’ll even be his first-ever submission victory.)

The Pick: Yoel Romero to Win by KO/TKO/DQ in Round 2 (+450 at DraftKings)


Billy Ward: Leah McCourt vs. Dayana Silva

Staff Writer at The Action Network

Leah McCourt takes on Dayana Silva in one of Bellator 285’s featured bouts. The Northern Irish featherweight opened things as a slight favorite before seeing the odds flip on her throughout the week.

That reversal of odds caught my attention, as it plays into a somewhat profitable trend. First highlighted by my former colleague Erich Richter, sportsbooks know who should be favored. Betting initial favorites at plus-money resulted in a 10-4 record and 6.82 units of profit in the 14-fight sample he examined.

McCourt also has some home-court advantage here as a (North) Irish native. Generally, promoters try to set up local fighters in solid matchups when traveling overseas (just look at the record of Irish/English fighters when the UFC heads to London).

Even without those factors, this is a fight that’s -250 to go to a decision. Taking the underdog in those situations is generally a good move – especially when we can anticipate some potential home cookin’ from the local judges.

McCourt also has nearly all of the finishing upside here. She is 5-1 under the Bellator banner, with three stoppages in that span.

Silva’s last finish came in 2014, against a 0-1 opponent in a regional fight in Brazil.

We’re getting plus-money on a fighter who’s the likelier of the two to get a finish, and also likelier to win a decision – whether she deserves it or not. That’s tough to pass up on, and I’d bet it down to +105.

The Pick: Leah McCourt (+120 at Caesars)


Dan Tom: Mads Burnell vs. Pedro Carvalho

Contributor at The Action Network and host of the Protect Ya’ Neck podcast

Carrying more chalk than the Catholic school I attended in the ’80s is Bellator 285, which goes down in Dublin this weekend.

From a betting perspective, many Bellator fans find themselves parsing through potential parlay pieces, trying to pick out the fraudulent favorites. But for me, I say look no further than Mads Burnell.

Burnell faces Pedro Carvalho, who is a product of SBG Ireland who is also looking to get back into the win column.

The problem for Carvalho is that Burnell is simply the better fighter in all areas, whether we’re talking about his technical acumen on the feet or finishing abilities on the mat.

In fact, I have a sneaky suspicion that Burnell will surprise Carvalho in the striking department, steering me away from a play on his submission prop.

Instead, I opted for some safer plus-money at DraftKings by pulling the trigger on Burnell “inside the distance” at +100 – which is something I would play up to -150, honestly.

(You can find this bet at DraftKings listed as “Mads Burnell to Win By KO, TKO, DQ/Submission” under the “Method of Victory Double Chance” menu.)

The Picks: Mads Burnell wins Inside the Distance (+100 at DraftKings)


Dann Stupp: Georgi Karakhanyan vs. Kane Mousah

Senior Editor at The Action Network

Perhaps I’m anxious for some action on a non-UFC weekend.

Maybe I’m forcing a bet.

After all, when you see a modest -175 favorite on a Bellator card – where monumental mismatches are the norm – that lack of sticker shock is perhaps the most surprising thing of all.

But the longer the week wears on, the more I liked this modest-favorite play on Friday’s Bellator 285 preliminary card.

As a -175 fave, Georgi Karakhanyan is expected to beat Kane Mousah (+150) about 63.6% of the time. However, though Mousah is no slouch and has faced plenty of quality competition, I think Karakhanyan wins this fight closer to 70 to 75% of the time.

In addition to owning a better body of work throughout his career, Karakhanyan should also have a decided edge on the mat. Both of these late-30s lightweights can sling leather, but Karakhanyan also has the type of ground-and-pound and MMA-specific jiu-jitsu that could neutralize and punish someone like Mousah. Karakhanyan has used it to finish other opponents with notable names.

It won’t be easy getting this fight to the mat, of course. With just one stoppage loss in his 15-year career (to current UFC fighter Marc Diakiese), Mousah has proven quite durable, and he’s knocked out some solid opposition who went looking for takedowns.

But even if the fight remains standing, I still slightly favor Karakhanyan. So, throw in his clear edge on the mat, and that current -175 line is feeling like it should be more in the -240 to -300 neighborhood.

Give me the discount on a big-show vet who should prove to be a much bigger favorite on fight day.

The Pick: Georgi Karakhanyan (-175 at DraftKings)

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