Gegard Mousasi has been one of the most dominant MMA fighters in the world the past few years, and he puts his Bellator middleweight title on the line Saturday night as a solid MMA Betting favorite against top contender Rafael Lovato Jr. in London. Here’s a look at that fight and the co-main event.
Bellator 223 Odds, Mousasi vs Lovato Jr. Betting Preview & Expert Prediction
- When: Saturday, 9 p.m. ET
- Where: SSE Arena, London
- Live Stream: DAZN
Bellator London (UK Channel 5)
- Gegard Mousasi vs Rafael Lovato Jr (Bellator Middleweight Championship)
- Melvin Manhoef vs Kent Kauppinen (Middleweight)
- Aaron Chalmers vs Fred Freeman (Catchweight — 160 lbs)
Bellator 223 (DAZN / Paramount Network)
- Paul Daley vs Erick Silva (Welterweight)
- James Gallagher vs Jeremiah Labiano (Catchweight — 140 lbs)
- Fabian Edwards vs Jonathan Bosuku (Middleweight)
- Mike Shipman vs Costello van Steenis (Middleweight)
- Charlie Ward vs Justin Moore (Middleweight)
Preliminary Card (Bellator.com)
- Chris Bungard vs Charlie Leary (Lightweight)
- Nathan Greyson vs Frans Mlambo (Bantamweight)
- Kevin Fryer vs John Redmond (Middleweight)
- Nathan Rose vs Luke Ord (Featherweight)
- Kate Jackson vs Lena Ovchynnikova (Women’s Flyweight)
- Terry Brazier vs Alessandro Botti (Catchweight — 161 lbs)
- Walter Gahadza vs Oliver Enkamp (Welterweight)
- Galore Bofando vs Keith McCabe (Welterweight)
- Justin Burlinson vs Wendle Lewis (Welterweight)
- Alfie Davis vs Jorge Kanella (Lightweight)
- Denise Kielholtz vs Bryony Tyrell (Women’s Flyweight)
Gegard Mousasi (45-6-2) vs. Rafael Lovato Jr. (9-0)
- Bellator 223 Odds: Mousasi -560 / Lovato +370
Mousasi and Lovato were originally scheduled to face one another for the middleweight title at Bellator 214 in January, but Mousasi was forced out of that meeting with a back injury. Mousasi is a -560 favorite with Lovato at +370.
Over the course of his long career, Mousasi has competed in 20 different organizations. That includes the UFC. The “Dreamcatcher” was either the main or co0main event in 12 of his 13 appearances with the organization. Despite that, though, Mousasi said he never felt like he was truly given a push and why he left for Bellator.
Mousasi never got to fight for a championship and said he never even felt like he was considered despite a five-fight winning streak, which included a TKO of former champion Chris Weidman in his final octagon appearance at UFC 210.
Mousasi has won eight in a row overall. He last fought in September 2018 and beat Rory MacDonald by second-round TKO (elbows and punches). MacDonald was the welterweight champion moving up to middleweight in an attempt to become Bellator’s first simultaneous two-weight titleholder.
Early in the second round, MacDonald attempted a takedown, but Mousasi ended up on top, and from there it was basically a matter of time. Somewhere in the scrum, MacDonald appeared to suffer a broken nose. Elbows and punches were rained down by Mousasi with reckless abandon until referee Herb Dean waved the fight off. It was Mousasi’s 37th career finish.
“I knew I had better standup, the reach advantage, speed advantage,” Mousasi said. “So my goal was to keep it in the standup, make him panic and go for the takedown.”
Lovato, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace who fights out of Oklahoma, is 5-0 inside the Bellator cage with three of this wins coming in under two minutes.
Lovato comes off a September 2018 third-round submission win over John Salter. Salter tried to push the pace on the feet to start the third round, though Lovato Jr. was ready with big counters on the advances. Salter did get inside to the clinch, but Lovato Jr. was able to remain upright. Shortly after, it was Lovato Jr. who was able to bring the action to the floor. Eventually, he got the right arm under the neck and worked a tight squeeze. While Salter tried to keep his chin tucked, he was forced to tap with 33 seconds left in the fight.
While undefeated, Lovato simply hasn’t fought someone at Mousasi’s level —because there really isn’t anyone else at that level in Bellator for him to face.
Paul Daley (40-17-2) vs. Erick Silva (20-10, 1 NC)
- Bellator 223 Odds: Daley -320 / Silva +240
Daley has lost two straight and three of four. He comes off a February unanimous decision loss to Michael Page that was regarded as disappointing for its lack of fireworks. Daley and Page spent most of the fight either on the ground or in the clinch, landing few significant strikes throughout the five rounds. Daley continually went for the takedown and was successful on some, but he did not do much damage while in top position. When the two were on their feet, Page was the slightly more effective striker.
Daley controlled the second and third rounds with his ground attack, taking Page down a couple of different ways including a great trip takedown. Realizing he was likely down on the scorecards, Page used Daley’s trick against him in the fourth round and took him down to the canvas.
The bout appeared even going into the fifth and final round when Daley immediately took the fight to the ground. After a couple of early strikes on top, Page reversed position. He took Daley’s back and almost submitted him with a rear-naked choke. All three judges scored the bout 48-47 for Page.
That loss knocked Daley out of the opening round of the Bellator Welterweight World Grand Prix. The Brit competes in England for the first time since Bellator 179 in May 2017, when he was submitted by Rory MacDonald.
Silva has lost three of his past four as well, the last fighting also at Bellator 2016 and falling to Yaroslav Amosov by unanimous decision. Silva, who was making his Bellator MMA debut, looked confident in the opening round finding a home with big overhand rights that kept his foe off-balance. However, Amosov implemented his grappling and dominated the rest of the way, as he cruised to a win. The judges’ scores at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. were 29-27 and a pair of 29-28s. On the canvas, there wasn’t much Silva could do to combat Amosov’s control.
Expert Picks for Bellator 223
Mousasi by KO/TKO & Daley by KO/TKO.