You don’t have to wait until Saturday night this week for some good MMA action to wager on at Mybookie.ag. That’s because Bellator 200 is Friday from the SSE Arena in London. The headline bout is a middleweight title fight between champion Rafael Carvalho and top challenger Gegard Mousasi. The main card will be shown at 9 p.m. ET (tape delay) on the Paramount Network (formerly Spike). Here’s a look at the top fights and the latest MMA odds for this upcoming event.
Bellator 200 Betting Preview & Picks
Main Event Called Off
Actually the main event for Bellator 200 was to be Mirko Cro Cop against Roy Nelson in a Bellator World Heavyweight Grand Prix alternate bout. On Monday, Cro Cop pulled out due to knee injuries and surgery. There was some talk that the promotion would try to find a short-notice replacement to fight Nelson. However, that has been scrapped. Nelson and Cro Cop were to fight for the No. 1 alternate slot in Bellator’s yearlong heavyweight grand prix. Now, Nelson will automatically claim it and join the heavyweight title tournament should one of the remaining competitors be forced to bow out for whatever reason.
Rafael Carvalho (15-1) vs. Gegard Mousasi (43-6)
Mousasi is the -360 favorite at MyBookie with Carvalho at +290. Why is the champion not favored? Because on the middleweight pound-for-pound rankings, Mousasi is No. 5 in the world. He was a lock to get a title shot after he signed with Bellator last year. The former UFC and Strikeforce veteran earned a narrow decision win against Alexander Shlemenko in his promotional debut in October.
Mousasi got the win but took a beating in the process. Mousasi’s game plan went out the window in the opening round after Shlemenko landed a left hand that nearly closed Mousasi’s right eye. In the final round, Shlemenko opened up with his strikes and landed a spinning back fist and combinations. At one point, Mousasi fell to his back. Mousasi absorbed big shots in the third round but managed to survive. The judges scored the fight for Mousasi by unanimous decision to the sound of boos from fans. Shlemenko said he was robbed and joined a chorus of many others saying that Bellator needs to adopt five-round fights for non-title headliners like the UFC does.
Even though he suffered a serious eye injury that bothers him to this day, Mousasi views his follow-up as a chance to prove he’s more than someone who merely survived a tough opponent. The former Strikeforce champ frequently took down Shlemenko and threatened chokes from back control despite a broken orbital bone to his left eye. Mousasi is now lighter than usual to be the faster fighter in this bout, which he figures will give him another edge if the clash goes the distance.
“I have a lot of advantages, because he’s not a wrestler,” Mousasi said. “He’s not really a jiu-jitsu guy. He doesn’t push the pace, so it’s an advantage for me. I have my game plan.”
Mousasi has earned 35 of his 43 career victories by stoppage. He’s finished 31 of those wins in Round 1.
Carvalho won the vacant Bellator middleweight belt in 2015 and has recorded three successful title defenses but not against great competition. Carvalho comes off a first-round knockout (elbow) of Alessio Sakara in December.
“I always prepare for five rounds,” Carvalho said after. “I didn’t expect it to end so fast like that. My shots just connected, one after the other, and I was able to win and keep my belt. When I threw that elbow, my intention was to cut him. When I noticed it really hurt him and that he was crumbling down, I couldn’t miss that chance.”
Carvalho is still undefeated in Bellator, with six straight wins. His sole professional loss was in his first fight back in December 2011 to Julio Cesar Araujo Fernandes in Samurai FC. Carvalho’s three consecutive Bellator title defenses are the most among current champions and as many as all other champions combined. No one else has more than one.
David Rickels (19-4) vs. Michael Page (12-0)
These are two welterweight contenders – Page is the favorite at -330, while Rickels is at +265. It’s an important matchup for Page, not only as he gets to perform in front of a friendly English crowd for the second time in his Bellator career, but because he gets to put an end to an 18-month layoff. He last fought in November 2016, a split decision win over Fernando Gonzalez at Bellator 165. The 564-day layoff is the longest of his more than six-year career.
Page’s eight-fight Bellator winning streak is tied for the third longest streak in company history behind McKee (11) and Ben Askren (nine). While Page is no stranger to competition, with an extensive freestyle kickboxing past, he hasn’t had that many chances to perform inside a cage with just those 12 fights.
Rickels is on a three-fight winning streak, two of those knockouts, and his sole losses since 2013 are by the hands of ex-champ Michael Chandler and perennial contender Patricky Freire. Rickels most recently beat Adam Piccolotti, who had previously scored a big submission win over then-undefeated Carrington Banks, and he holds a win over grappling ace and UFC up-and-comer Davi Ramos.
Why is Page unbeaten? Rickels has a theory: “They all fight with fear. They’re worried about what he’s doing. They’re watching his show. He does the little show where he dances and does all that (expletive). They’re not worried about fighting and whooping his ass. And I’m a one-track mind when I get in there. I’m hunting you down, and I’m going for the kill. That’s exactly what it is.”
Rickels’ eight stoppage victories in Bellator competition are tied for fourth most in company history behind Chandler (11), Freire (10) and Brennan Ward (nine).
Expert Bellator 200 Betting Predictions
Carvalho is an overinflated champion. Take Mousasi by KO/TKO. Page wins by decision.