It’s a great weekend upcoming to be a fan of mixed martial arts. That’s because there’s a terrific UFC 218 card Saturday highlighted by a rematch between featherweight champion Jose Aldo and Max Holloway. You can find a preview of that elsewhere at MyBookie . We’re here to talk about a Bellator 189 card on Friday night. Check back for the latest Bellator odds.
Bellator 189 Expert Preview & Betting Picks
When: Friday, 9 PM ET
Where: WinStar World Casino, Thackerville, Okla.
Live Stream: Bellator Live
Julia Budd vs. Arlene Blencowe
It’s a rematch between Blencowe and the Bellator women’s featherweight champion Budd. Budd (10-2) won the Bellator 145-pound championship with fourth-round TKO victory over Marloes Coenen in March, improving to 4-0 under that promotion’s banner. Budd dominated Coenen for three rounds before finally finishing her in the fourth and winning the inaugural Bellator women’s featherweight title by TKO. The stoppage came at the 2:42 mark of the fourth round.
“I really wanted to finish her,” said Budd. “I said I was going to do it, and I made a point to do it. It took a little longer than I wanted to. … It turned me into an animal.”
Coenen (23-8), a former Strikeforce women’s bantamweight champion, announced her retirement in her post-fight interview after nearly 17 years as a professional mixed martial artist. Budd also took a majority decision against Blencowe (10-6) in October 2016. One judge saw it 29-29 while the others favored Budd 30-27 and 29-27. After losing to Budd, Blencowe has won three straight fights. Most recently, the 34-year-old Australian took a split verdict over Sinead Kavanagh at Bellator 182 on April 25.
Chris Honeycutt vs. Rafael Lovato Jr.
It’s a middleweight clash between these contenders. At 34 years of age, Lovato Jr. steps into the cage for the seventh time in his four-year career. Since debuting for Legacy Fighting Championship in 2014, Lovato has slowly developed his skills to fit the demands of MMA. His 6-0 record shows a steady progression that’s allowed him to flourish, first in LFC then in Bellator. As a Carlos Machado black belt, he is the first non-Brazilian competitor to win the Brazilian National Championship, which he did in 2007, and the third American to win the IBJJF World competition.
At 10-1, the 29-year-old Honeycutt is on a four-fight win streak. Since joining Bellator in 2014, he’s put together a 6-1-1 record. Honeycutt doesn’t bring Lovato Jr’s Brazilian jiu-jitsu background into the cage, but he is a two-time NCAA Division I All-American wrestler. Honeycutt last fought in August, beating Kevin Casey by second-round TKO (punches). His loss came to Paul Bradley on Jan. 29, 2016, in a rematch – they had drawn previously.
Hisaki Kato vs. Chidi Njokuani
Here’s another middleweight bout, with Njokuani moving up in weight. Njokuani’s move up to 185 pounds comes as little surprise given his history of weight cutting problems. The 28-year-old has not competed at 170 pounds in his last three fights, missing weight twice and once agreeing to a 180-pound catchweight bout.
Njokuani was riding a nine-fight unbeaten streak headed into his Bellator 182 headliner in August against former promotional welterweight champion Andrey Koreshkov. Njokuani clocked in at 175 pounds for the contest, missing weight by five pounds. Koreshkov then promptly ended Njokuani’s four-year undefeated run, stopping him at 4:08 of Round 1 with strikes.
Kato (8-2) has participated in both Bellator’s MMA and kickboxing divisions. The Daidojuku expert has won four of his last five, with three of those victories coming in the Bellator cage. The 35-year-old made a memorable promotional debut in June 2015, blowing away Joe Schilling in one of the year’s best knockouts but his roll was halted five months later when he suffered a brutal fate at the hands of Melvin Manhoef. After a 64-second knockout of Yuta Watanabe in Rizin Fighting Federation, the French-born Japanese fighter rebounded under the Bellator banner with wins over A.J. Matthews last October and Ralek Gracie in January. In his lone Bellator Kickboxing appearance, Kato defeated Joe Schilling by second-round KO via spinning backfist.
David Rickels vs. Adam Piccolotti
It’s a catchweight bout at 160 pounds. Brennan Ward was scheduled to face Rickels in a welterweight bout on the main card of Bellator 185 last month. However, Ward was removed from the card due to injury and Rickels was pulled from the card as a result. Rickels, a former lightweight title challenger, is coming off a third-round TKO of Aaron Derrow in his most recent appearance at Bellator 171 on Jan. 27. “The Caveman” has been with Bellator since 2011, compiling a 13-4 career mark with two no contests.
Piccolotti was originally set to fight Derek Anderson here but Anderson got injured. Piccolotti, 29, is 9-1 and will be looking to rebound from the first loss of his pro career. At Bellator 183 in September, he was submitted by Goiti Yamauchi in the first round. Before that, he had a perfect 9-0 start to his career, including 5-0 for Bellator with three submission finishes.
Expert Predictions & Bellator 189 Picks
Budd keeps her title, with Honeycutt, Kato and Rickels also winning in the cage in Bellator 189.