President Scott Coker and Bellator MMA is going back to the well after seeing success from the ongoing heavyweight grand prix and has announced a 10-man welterweight grand prix with the winner being named the new welterweight champion. At this time, the bracket has yet to be announced, but oddsmakers have given their odds to win Bellator’s second grand prix this year.
Bovada has the current champion, Rory “Red King” MacDonald, opening at the +200 favorite followed by Douglas “The Phenom” Lima at +300, Andrey “Spartan” Koreshkov at +600, Jon Fitch at +650, Michael “Venom” Page at +700, Lorenz “The Monsoon” Larkin at +700, Any Other Fighter +1000, Ed “Easy” Ruth +1200, Neiman Gracie at +1500, and Yaroslav “Dynamo” Amosov rounding out the 10-man tournament.
Will the Champs Reign Continue?
MacDonald is the new champion having survived a five-round brawl with Lima en route to a unanimous decision to claim the title at Bellator 192 in January. Red King hasn’t entered the cage since and will likely be the last fight in the opening round of this grand prix because he has an upcoming bout vs current middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi at Bellator 206.
The Canadian was extremely close to securing the UFC welterweight strap prior to making the jump over to Bellator nearly two years ago. Since joining his new organization, MacDonald stopped Paul Daley by submission and, as mentioned before, earned the belt from Lima. The bout with The Phenom was an instant classic with terrific back-and-forth action and MacDonald truly showing the heart of a champion as he was a few leg kicks away from being finished himself.
One fight has already been announced for the tournament and no matter the result of this bout, a dangerous fighter will be eliminated. Scheduled at Bellator 206 is the rubber match between Lima and Koreshkov, with these competitors having the second and third best odds to win the tournament respectfully. Koreshkov scored a unanimous decision win over Lima in to win the belt at Bellator 140, but The Phenom got the belt back when he finished Spartan with a third-round knockout. With one of these brawlers being eliminated from the grand prix, it puts MacDonald in a better position to retain his championship in the end.
Most Intriguing Fighter in the Grand Prix: Michael “Venom” Page
Page, aka MVP, gets his opportunity to do battle with the best of the best within Bellator’s welterweight division. The London native is a perfect 13-0, including 11 wins by finish and eight by T/KO, but has never had a pop off the page type opponent. Venom has been popping up on social media with his flashy aggressive style and over-the-top post-fight antics, including dressing up as Ash from Pokemon and throwing a Pokeball at his foe that was writhing in pain on the ground following a vicious flying knee knockout.
MVP has ridiculous one-punch knockout power and when he finds his range he is Anderson Silva-like with his showboating and essentially toying with his foes before finishing them. Once again, though, he has outclassed all of his opponents and will now be making a stiff jump in competition and all that showboating may result in his first defeat. On the other hand, this could be the coming out party for Venom and if he can continue finishing his fights against these top-level opponents we could be witnessing greatness in the making and at +700 he may be the man to put your money on.
Any Other Fighter: Who could that Be and What would that mean?
Besides the obvious being that any other fighter being, well, any other fighter not mentioned in the among the other nine fighters. However, earlier this week that 10th and final fighter may have been announced as knockout artist Paul Daley agreed to a new deal with Bellator and could be joining the welterweight grand prix. Early rumors are that Daley will take on MVP in the first round which has all the makings of a classic brawl surely ending in a devastating knockout.
It appears Daley is the 10th competitor in the grand prix, and at +1000 he could be a bargain because if this man connects on the chin the fight will be over. However, Semtex’s Achilles heel has been his grappling game as he has shown no willingness to improve that part of his style and many of his opponents have opted to go that route to earn the win. Again, getting in close to secure the takedown puts you at a major risk at being knocked out.
An outside name that I was wondering upon for the Any Other Fighter was Ben Askren. Funky is a perfect 18-0 but is currently under contract with One Championship, although he has talked about ending that contract. The former Olympian has wins over the aforementioned Douglas Lima and Andrey Koreshkov as he was the former welterweight champion in Bellator before leaving for One. If Askren can strike a deal with Bellator and join the grand prix he would certainly become one of the favorites and at a +1000 you could make some decent coin.
Here’s a look at the Bellator welterweight grand prix odds:
|Any Other Fighter||+1000|
Odds as of July 19 at Bovada