The Bellator heavyweight championship is on line on Saturday when MMA legend Ryan Bader faces Valentin Moldavsky.
It’s a stacked card at Footprint Center in Phoenix, which includes the co-main event between Benson Henderson and Islam Mamedov.
MMA betting odds are available and we’re expecting fireworks.
Ryan Bader vs Valentin Moldavsky
There is no doubt that Bader is an MMA legend. His time in the UFC was exceptional and he’s ready to defend his belt in the Bellator heavyweight division.
Only one fighter will emerge as the clear-cut champion as interim champion Moldavsky presents a tough challenge.
The Russian is 11-1-0 following wins over Roy Nelson and Tim Johnson. He looks to take out another former UFC fighter in Bader, who is the pronounced underdog in the title fight.
Moldavsky is the current -350 favorite to have his hand raised, which is a fair price at the sportsbook given his recent form. He hasn’t lost since a split decision loss to Amir Aliakbari in 2016, so he’s a rising star.
Bader lost his last fight to Corey Anderson with a 51-second knockout. However, Bader has shown a tendency to bounce back when his back is against the wall.
He lost to Vadim Nemkov before beating Anthony Johnson in a grappling fight. His most recent Bellator win came against Lyoto Machida, so he has form on the board.
Bader is respecting his opponent, but he doesn’t believe any part of Moldavsky’s game stands out.
“He’s just all-around. He’s good at everything. There’s not one area where I’m like, ‘Oh, he’s phenomenal at,’ but he’s good all the way around,” Bader told BroBible.com. “And that’s what wins fights. So got a tough test at hand. He has an interim belt and so we’re unifying this championship and looking to go out there and get my hand raised and unify that
Take the value with Bader, who we like to pull off an upset.
Pick: Ryan Bader +250
Benson Henderson vs Islam Mamedov
Mamedov is on a tear after notching 18 consecutive wins, which is why he’s the short-priced favorite to beat Henderson.
The Russian is one of the most well-rounded MMA fighters, having won by decision, kneebar and ground and pound from his last four fights.
He has been fighting top-level PFL and Bellator fighters, so he matches up well against MMA legend Henderson, who lost five consecutive bouts before beating Ben Saunders in a grappling fight.
His recent struggles in Bellator are a bad sign, hence the big odds available with betting online markets.
Mamedov should have no problem extending his impressive winning streak.
Pick: Islam Mamedov -400
Henry Corrales vs Aiden Lee
An even fight is expected between Corrales and Lee, but we give the edge to Corrales.
The American is the -140 favorite, having beaten Vladyslav Parubchenko at Bellator 268, which was a gutsy effort. He won by decision and it was a much-needed win following three losses from his previous four fights.
Lee is 10-5 and 1-1 since arriving on the Bellator main stage. He lost his opener to Aaron Pico before winning via a rear-naked choke over Aleksandr Osetrov in the third round.
It should be a good contest, but we wouldn’t leave Corrales out of our selections. He’s one of our MMA best bets to get the job done.
Pick: Henry Corrales -140
Sabah Homasi vs Jaleel Willis
Another tough fight is expected between Homasi and Willis, who are closely ranked in the welterweight division.
Willis is the firm favorite despite getting choked out at Bellator 268, but he was facing a tough 14-1 fighter.
It ended a six-fight win streak for Willis, so bettors should expect the 29-year-old to bounce back.
Homasi is only 15-10 after losing his last two fights. He has shown power when beating Bobby Voelker with a flying knee and Micah Terrill with a right hook, but there is no consistency.
If he doesn’t land early, Willis should outscore him.