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One of the best Bellator MMA cards of the year takes place Saturday at SAP Pavilion in San Jose, California, as Scott Coker heads back to his old stomping grounds for Bellator 206. The bill will be shown live on the new streaming service DAZN and the card is loaded with a title fight on top and plenty of big names underneath. Sportsbooks are offering odds on all six main card fights, and here are the four fighters I trust the most to get a win this edition of Prime Picks.
Gegard Mousasi (-250)
The main event of Bellator 206 is a fantastic superfight between middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi and welterweight king Rory MacDonald. Mousasi won the title with a TKO over Rafael Carvalho in his last fight and overall is on a seven-fight win streak that includes a conquest of Chris Weidman in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
MacDonald is moving up to middleweight after having won the Bellator welterweight title over Douglas Lima. He also dominated Paul Daley in his Bellator debut after losing back-to-back fights to Robbie Lawler and Stephen Thompson to end his UFC tenure.
Both Mousasi and MacDonald are amazing fighters and this is the bout fans wanted to see. But, the key to this fight should be the weight class. Mousasi is used to fighting bigger competitors at middleweight and you can’t forget how many bouts he had at light heavyweight and heavyweight earlier in his career. He’s proven time and time again that he can compete and beat bigger men. MacDonald, meanwhile, has competed as a welterweight in major promotions and we really have no idea how he’ll look at middleweight. Making his debut against a fighter as complete as Mousasi won’t be easy. As good as MacDonald is, one of his flaws is that he takes a lot of damage. Mousasi is a very technical striker and will be going right after his prey. I also think Mousasi has the advantage on the ground. MacDonald may look amazing at middleweight, but until he proves it I can’t go against Mousasi. I think Mousasi wins a decision here. I’m not in love with the odds to be honest -- he opened as a smaller favorite but has since been bet up -- but I definitely think Mousasi is the side here.
Quinton Jackson (-245)
Pride Fighting Championships legends Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Wanderlei Silva meet for the fourth time in the co-main event in a heavyweight bout. Silva is 2-1 in the series, with two knockout wins over Jackson. In this fight I think you have to side with Jackson once again. At this point, Silva is an auto-fade. He’s in his 40s now and as we saw against Chael Sonnen he doesn’t have more than five minutes of cardio at this point.
Truth be told, Jackson hasn’t looked very good lately either, as he’s lost back-to-back fights against Sonnen and Muhammed Lawal, but he was on a five-fight win streak before that and overall he’s looked decent in Bellator. This is more of a situation of fading Silva rather than trusting Jackson, but on a card that doesn’t feature a lot of options for betting, Jackson is the side if you want to place some money. I think he probably outstrikes Silva and wins an ugly decision.
Douglas Lima (+110)
Arguably the most intriguing fight on the card aside from the main event is the trilogy match between Andrey Koreshkov and Douglas Lima. This fight is a quarterfinal in the Bellator welterweight grand prix and is scheduled for five rounds. Koreshkov won the first fight by decision and then Lima finished him in the rematch, so this third fight should be interesting. As a plus-money underdog, though, I like Lima here. The last time these two fought Lima looked like the destroyer he is as he brutally finished Koreshkov. Lima claims he was injured the first time these two fought, when Koreshkov outwrestled him for five rounds, and based on what we saw in the rematch there may be some validity to that. I just feel like Lima should be the favorite here, so to get him as the underdog presents a good value opportunity.
Aaron Pico (-515)
While I think that Leandro Higo is Aaron Pico’s toughest test to date, I still think Pico wins this fight. The shocking submission loss to Zach Freeman in his MMA debut seems like ages ago and Pico has bounced back admirably from that loss with three straight knockouts. Higo, meanwhile, is moving up to featherweight after losing two of his last three at bantamweight. I think Higo is a solid fighter, but Pico is an elite talent in this sport with his combination of striking and wrestling, and I think he wins this. Not surprisingly, he’s a huge favorite once again. Despite the high odds, I believe Pico is someone to consider for a parlay along with some of the other favorites mentioned above.
Adam Martin is a mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the sport since 2011. He is currently the lead odds analyst for Sherdog.com as well as the lead staff writer for MMAOddsbreaker.com. Adam is also the co-host of “The Parting Shot Podcast” on iTunes. His favorite fight of all time is Dan Henderson vs. Shogun Rua and he wishes Pride never died. Adam is based out of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and he is a graduate of the University of Toronto and Centennial College. Get in touch with him on Twitter @MMAdamMartin.
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