The next two weeks for Bellator are busy and feature some of their biggest stars of the Americas, along with their top-tier European talent at Bellator 222 and 223 respectively.
Our mixed martial arts (MMA) writers make their main card predictions ahead of Bellator 222, but be sure to keep an eye out for our Bellator London predictions next week.
We will also keep you up-to-date with our staff prediction records throughout the year, so here is a quick look at the standings following UFC 238:
Now let’s get into some predictions.
Welterweight [Title] – Rory MacDonald vs Neiman Gracie
Welterweight Champion Rory MacDonald puts his title on the line in the second semi-final of the welterweight grand prix. MacDonald is coming off a gritty win over Jon Fitch, while Neiman Gracie earned a quick submission victory over Ed Ruth to advance. The winner will go on to face Douglas Lima in the finals later this year.
Ashkon: The big question going into this is “where is Rory’s head at?” Now, I don’t believe that he didn’t feel the drive going into the fight. I think that Fitch’s grinding style just wore on him mentally to the point where he was thinking “This isn’t fun.” After 25 minutes against a grinder in a fight that could’ve gone either way, I think it’s acceptable to feel down on yourself a bit. Neiman Gracie has been doing the Gracie name proud with 8 submissions in his 9 pro fights. Unfortunately, I think his streak ends here. MacDonald has the tools to finish this fight within 25 minutes and I’m still not sold on the idea that Rory isn’t fully there.
Prediction: MacDonald via TKO (Rd. 3)
Kassim: I am not sure about Rory McDonald. His comments after the Fitch fight were concerning. He didn’t sound like a fighter who wants to be in that cage and you can’t enter a fight with that mindset and body language. That’s why I’m picking Neiman Gracie. His constant threat of the takedown and Jiu-Jitsu prowess will be too much. Prediction: Gracie via Submission (Rd. 2)
Kiefer: Neiman Gracie looked sharp in his last bout, but the question here is what Rory MacDonald are we going to see. If it is the MacDonald that spoke after barely scraping by Fitch, then Gracie gets the nod. But if we get a vintage “Red King” performance, it’s a wrap.
Prediction: MacDonald via Decision
Light Heavyweight – Lyoto Machida vs Chael Sonnen
Lyoto Machida and Chael Sonnen meet in the co-main event with a potential title shot looming. Machida currently boasts wins over both the heavyweight and light heavyweight champion, Ryan Bader, along with the middleweight champion, Gegard Mousasi. A win could see him challenge for either of their belts. According to recent comments made by Sonnen, he likes his chances against Ryan Bader, and a win against Machida is likely all that stands in his way.
Ashkon: Lyoto Machida has shown no signs of slowing down since signing with Bellator, and I believe his momentum will carry through in this fight. Chael is a tough outing for anyone but has had a fairly mediocre run in Bellator so far. His wins over Wanderlei Silva and Quinton Jackson were impressive, but neither of those fighters are as agile as Lyoto Machida. Unfortunately, Chael also has a habit of succumbing to pressure in big fights.
Prediction: Machida via TKO (Rd. 1)
Kassim: Machida is always dangerous because he possesses a lot of threat with his striking ability. On the flip side, Sonnen is just an overall tough guy. And I think his toughness and endurance will be enough to keep Machida down and go the distance.
Prediction: Sonnen via Decision (Unanimous)
Kiefer: Sonnen has all the tools to control Machida on the ground, but he will have to be wary of Machida’s elusive striking style. It’s simple if Sonnen can put Machida on his back the fight is his to lose, but if it stays standing Sonnen does not stand a chance.
Prediction: Machida via TKO (Rd. 2)
Catchweight (175 lbs) – Dillon Danis vs Max Humphrey
In one of the more anticipated fights of the evening Dillon Danis, in just his second professional MMA contest, will take on newcomer Max Humphrey. Danis is looking to prove the naysayers wrong by slowly working his way up the ladder, while Humphrey is hoping to add a big name to his resume.
Ashkon: This fight is at a catchweight that favors Danis, in a city that favors Danis, and a matchup that favours Danis. I think Dillon Danis takes this one comfortably, although everyone has a punchers chance.
Prediction: Danis via Submission (Rd. 1)
Kassim: This will be one of those fights where a fighter gets his record groomed so they can make a lot of money for him. I think it’ll be an easy win for Danis as a result.
Prediction: Danis via TKO (Rd. 1)
Kiefer: Bellator is grooming Danis to become one of the stars of the company and this fight should end similar to his first.
Prediction: Danis via Submission (Rd. 1)
Bantamweight – Ricky Bandejas vs Patrick Mix
The other bantamweight fight features Ricky Bandejas welcoming Patrick Mix to the Bellator cage. Bandejas is coming off a tough loss to Juan Archuleta that showed Bandejas’ heart and grit. Despite the loss, he proved he belongs in the conversation. Mix has been nothing short of phenomenal in his previous bouts with other organizations and is looking to make a statement in his Bellator debut. This fight has a potential to be the fight of the night, and that’s saying a lot considering the other bouts on the card.
Ashkon: Bandejas has shown that he is a force to be reckoned with in Bellator’s Bantamweight division. His knockout over James Gallagher put him on everyone’s radar and, despite losing to Archuleta, he showed he has heart. Mix is a huge prospect for Bellator and will have to shake-off any immediate cage jitters once the bell rings. I think that if Mix is able to keep his composure and not let the moment get to him, he will improve to 11-0. Prediction: Mix via Submission (Rd. 2)
Kassim: I think this fight will be a real scrap. We’ll see a lot of striking and we’ll see a lot of ground and pound. It’ll be a close fight but I think Mix will win.
Prediction: Mix via TKO (Rd. 2)
Kiefer: Both men can finish the fight on the ground or on the feet, but it is always tough to make your debut and score a finish, especially against a guy as tough as Bandejas.
Prediction: Bandejas via Decision
Featherweight – Eduardo Dantas vs Juan Archuleta
Juan Archuleta is coming off an impressive victory against the always tough Ricky Bandejas and is currently riding a 17-fight winning streak. Eduardo Dantas has been streaky as of late, but is looking to build on his recent win over Toby Misech en route to becoming champion once again.
Ashkon: Dantas has been inconsistent lately but has shown moments of promise. The former champ has a huge test ahead of him in Juan Archuleta. Archuleta put on a gritty performance against Ricky Bandejas and I believe he’ll extend his streak and finally earn a shot at Bellator gold.
Archuleta via Decision (Unanimous)
Kassim: Archuleta is the clear favourite here. His 17-fight winning streak speaks for itself and he’s looking to establish himself as the best in his division. Because of that I think Archuleta wins.
Prediction: Archuleta via RNC (Rd. 2)
Kiefer: I think Juan Archuleta continues his run and is likely only one fight away from a title shot if he wins in decisive fashion.
Prediction: Archuleta via KO (Rd. 3)
Bantamweight [Title] – Darrion Caldwell vs Kyoji Horiguchi
The Bellator 222 main card kicks off with a bang, as Darrion Caldwell and Kyoji Horiguchi rematch for the Bantamweight World Title. Last December, a partnership between Bellator and Rizin saw Caldwell challenge Horiguchi for the inaugural Rizin Bantamweight Championship. And now Horiguchi has the chance to become the first fighter to hold both a Bellator and Rizin belt simultaneously.
Ashkon: Caldwell vs Horiguchi is going to be a very interesting rematch. The buzz after the first fight was that Caldwell’s lack of experience in a ring as opposed to a cage is what lead to his loss. The size difference vastly favours Caldwell, but after the first match-up it’s a bit tough to doubt Horiguchi. Horiguchi has looked nothing short of phenomenal since his loss to Demetrious Johnson four years ago, and I think he becomes the first fighter to hold both a Bellator and Rizin belt simultaneously.
Horiguchi via Submission (Rd. 3)
Kassim: This has potential to be fight of the night. Both fighters have a lot to prove, especially Horiguchi.
Prediction: Horiguchi via Decision (Split)
Kiefer: Both of these fighters are incredible and their styles make for an intriguing rematch. I think if these guys fight 100 times they each win 50, so bring on the trilogy.
Prediction: Caldwell via Decision
Bellator 222 takes place on June 14, 2019, at the legendary Madison Square Garden in New York, NY. The main card begins at 8 p.m. MT and will be live on DAZN.