This Friday, June 14, Rory MacDonald and Neiman Gracie are set to headline the Bellator 222 event at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
The event is one of the best that Bellator has put together in the months gone past. The promotion has packed the prelims and main card with notable fighters including veterans such as Chael Sonnen and Lyoto Machida, prospects such as Aaron Pico and Dillon Danis, and proven contenders such as Eduardo Dantas, Darrion Caldwell, Kyoji Horiguchi, and more.
We’re here to bring you a detailed betting guide for the main event, as well as picks and tips for the rest of the Bellator 222 main card.
Let’s get started.
Rory MacDonald vs. Neiman Gracie
It’s a fight that not many had anticipated, but we’ve arrived at Rory MacDonald vs. Neiman Gracie on the right-side, semifinal stage of the Bellator Welterweight Grand Prix. At Bellator 222, MacDonald and Gracie will face off for the welterweight title.
Rory MacDonald is the current king of the Bellator welterweight division and may still be considered favorite to go on and win the Welterweight Grand Prix. A talented striker with a well-rounded skillset, MacDonald has secured wins over Paul Daley and Douglas Lima since arriving in Bellator.
However, he’s yet to experience success in his last two bouts after being beaten up by Gegard Mousasi and then fighting to a majority draw with Jon Fitch most recently. Most concerning, however, is MacDonald’s mental state after these fights (more on that later).
If you’ve watched any UFC, there’s a reasonable chance that you’ve encountered the name “Gracie” at least once. What’s the significance of the name? Well, today, any member of the Gracie family who is competing in mixed martial arts carries the incredibly impressive legacy of the family who rose to fame because of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Now, Neiman, and other members of the family continue to use Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in mixed martial arts.
Neiman is undefeated after nine fights as a professional mixed martial artist. He’s finished all but one of those fights and most recently choked Ed Ruth to secure a fourth-round win at Bellator 213.
MacDonald is a massive step up for Gracie, but this might be the best time to catch the reigning welterweight champion off guard.
Rory MacDonald vs. Neiman Gracie Odds
Rory MacDonald vs. Neiman Gracie Breakdown
It’s bizarre that one of the major factors going into this fight is not the physical aspects of the contest, but the mental factors at play instead.
Rory MacDonald, who has been involved in some of the most brutal, bloody wars in mixed martial arts history (see vs. Robbie Lawler), has seemingly drifted away from loving the violent aspects of the sport and is now far removed from wanting to inflict damage and hurt his opponents. If you’re wondering where all of this has stemmed from, after advancing past the quarterfinal stage due to a majority draw that saw him retain his title, MacDonald announced that he has found God and that he doesn’t have the same ambition to hurt people anymore.
That’d be entirely normal for any regular person to admit, but for a mixed martial artist who currently reigns as the champion of one of the toughest divisions in Bellator right now? Crazy.
So, here we are, about to take into account MacDonald’s mental state as we break down this fight with Neiman Gracie. It’s important to do so considering the sheer nature of this contest.
Neiman Gracie is a forward-moving fighter who is almost solely focused on securing takedowns and submitting his opponents. He is likely to continue pressing forward until he’s badly hurt. And even then, there’s no evidence that he’ll slow down. But to at least keep Gracie from advancing and pursuing takedowns, MacDonald is going to need to inflict damage and lots of it.
This is where MacDonald’s jab will shine. He’ll use his long and intelligent lead arm to not only control distance but bust up the face of his opponent. As Neiman advances, expect MacDonald to counter with kicks and punches or just slide out of the way and create an angle. However, it’s going to be hard to do this all night against Gracie, who has developed his wrestling to a point where he’s not just a one-trick pony without a way of getting the fight to the mat anymore.
And even on the mat, it’s not straightforward to say that Gracie has a huge advantage when it comes to grappling. It seems like he does. But it’s never easy to determine what a fighter can do with that advantage in mixed martial arts. MacDonald is certainly capable of stalling in some positions and defending himself from submission attacks. But is that enough?
It’s certainly hard to bet on a fighter who doesn’t seem to have his head in the game anymore. Gracie is more than able to dethrone MacDonald and advance in the Welterweight Grand Prix.
We’ll be betting on the undefeated Brazilian to move forward.
Bet on Neiman Gracie to win: +159 at SportBet
Bellator 222 Best Bets
We’re taking three underdogs at Bellator 222 this Friday. Find our bets below:
- Bet on Neiman Gracie to win: +159 at SportBet
- Chael Sonnen to defeat Lyoto Machida: +275 at BetOnline
- Kyoji Horiguchi to defeat Darrion Caldwell: +149 at SportBet
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Jake is a mixed martial arts reporter from Australia. At WagerBop, he merges his appreciation of combat sports and a strong passion for analytics to uncover betting opportunities for readers.