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Bellator 222 Preview

Bellator 222 (TV: DAZN)

Friday, June 14th 10:00 PM ET Madison Square Garden (New York, NY)

Main Event

Welterweight World Grand Prix Semifinal: Rory MacDonald (20-5-1) vs. Neiman Gracie (9-0)

Fight odds: Rory MacDonald -170 Neiman Gracie +145

Co-Main Event

Light Heavyweight Fight: Lyoto Machida (25-8) vs. Chael Sonnen (31-16-1)

Fight odds: Lyoto Machida -330 Chael Sonnen +265

Fanduel Bellator 222 Pick Rory MacDonald vs. Neiman Gracie

Bellator 222 returns with a strong card from Madison Square Garden. Some former UFC greats will be in the Main and Co-Main Events. In the Co-Main event two plus 40 legends of the sport will fight each other when Chael Sonnen meets Lyoto Machida. Sonnen is 42, 6’1 with a 73 inch reach. Machida is 41, 6’1 with a 74 inch reach. Sonnen is mainly known as a wrestler with a high motor. Sonnen is also a great trash talker and is great at selling fights. Machida uses a karate stance to keep his opponent at range and attacks from the outside with kicks and punches. If Machida can keep this fight standing, then he should come out the victor. Machida will be fighting for the second time under the Bellator promotion, coming off a split decision win over Rafael Carvalho in December of 2018.

This is an interesting style matchup as Sonnen is a master wrestler and Machida is a master striker. Sonnen will need to close the distance to avoid getting picked apart from the outside by a skillful Machida. Sonnen will be making his 5th appearance with Bellator, with a 2-2 record in his previous Bellator fights. In October of 2018 Sonnen suffered a 1st Round knockout loss to heavyweight legend, Fedor Emelianenko in his most recent fight. The fight against Machida will be at light heavyweight, 205 lbs. Machida is an unpredictable striker and Sonnen has been prone to getting knocked out in recent fights, with 4 losses by knockout in his last 8 fights. Sonnen will need to ugly up the fight and make Machida uncomfortable with forward pressure and takedowns. Machida can throw a variety of strikes and does well to control the distance with his stance and long reach. Machida should come out with the victory with superior striking abilities and decent takedown defense.

In the Main Event, Rory MacDonald will fight Neiman Gracie in the Welterweight World Grand Prix Semifinals. The winner of the tournament will be crowned the Welterweight Champion (170lbs.) and earn a $1 million dollar prize. MacDonald is 29, 6’0 with a 76 inch reach. Gracie is 30, 6’0 with a 73 inch reach. Following MacDonald’s last fight, an uninspiring performance against Jon Fitch he made some eye opening comments post fight. Macdonald stated, “I don’t know if I have the same drive to hurt people anymore.” Fitch easily could’ve got the decision as he was in top position controlling the ground game and making MacDonald look vulnerable. It ended up being declared a majority draw and MacDonald advanced since he is the current Welterweight Champion.

Draftkings Bellator 222 Pick Rory MacDonald vs. Neiman Gracie

The fight game is as much mental as it is physical. If MacDonald is lacking in mental toughness or drive, then Gracie will likely expose this. Gracie isn’t much of a knockout threat, but has an excellent ground game. Gracie comes from a lineage of grapplers as his family developed Gracie Jiu Jitsu and Neiman Gracie has carried on their legacy well. Gracie is undefeated in 9 pro fights, with 8 wins coming by submission. If MacDonald can avoid the takedowns and beat Gracie up on the feet, then he should come out the victor. Much like the Co-Main Event this is another matchup of a grappler against a striker.

Gracie is coming off a 4th Round submission win over Ed Ruth and will want to keep his submission streak going. Gracie is a tough opponent to prepare for because not many fighters possess his expert and unpredictable ground game. MacDonald will need to show his toughness and look for the knockout. In 26 pro fights, MacDonald has never been submitted. This shows he has good defense and is also a decent grappler. MacDonald may be lacking in motivation and may not have that killer mentality that is essential to his aggressive style of fighting. Gracie will likely take full advantage of this and get the submission victory. If MacDonald was losing to a less skilled grappler, in Jon Fitch then how much better can he fare against Gracie, a beast on the ground. MacDonald will need to keep this fight on the feet to have any chance of advancing into the Welterweight Final.

Picks: Lyoto Machida by 2nd Round KO

Neiman Gracie by 3rd Round Submission