| Wed 07/02/2018 - 06:10 EST

      Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix Dark Horse Contenders for 2018

      Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix Dark Horse Contenders for 2018

      Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix Odds

      Chael Sonnen became the first fight to advance to the semifinals of the Heavyweight Grand Prix and we get three more quarterfinal fights scattered between Bellator 194 later this month until Bellator 198 in May. Oddsmakers have pegged Matt Mitrione (+225) and Ryan Bader (+280) as the favourites to advance when the two are likely to meet in the semifinals.

      Instead, we look at the other fighters in the tournament whose odds may be just as good if not better but are priced at lower odds. 

      These are the dark horse contenders for the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix:

      *All odds via >SIA sportsbook.

      Fedor Emelianenko

      • Odds to Win Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix: +600

      The people's choice. Fedor Emelianenko remains an enigma today especially at 41-years-old and has only fought three times in this last three years posting a 2-1 record with two of those wins being unimpressive. Fedor was knocked out by tournament-favourite Matt Mitrione in his Bellator debut just 74 seconds into the first but he did knock him down.

      Fedor is a dark horse because of his path to the finals. He fights Frank Mir (+400) who is slightly favoured over him but Fedor is the better and faster striker. While his durability is a concern, Mir isn't exactly that durable himself and doesn't look to be in great shape.

      If Fedor gets by Mir, he'll be facing Chael Sonnen (+700), who is favourable matchup. Sonnen is the same size as Fedor and isn't a threat as a striker. Fedor's solid defensive wrestling will win him the fight. Once he's in the Finals, Fedor rematches Mitrione if no upsets happen. While the odds favour Mitrione here, any other fighter but Mitrione increases Fedor's odds tremendously. 

      A small play on Fedor right now is warranted because if and when he beats Mir, his price will go down significantly. 

      Roy Nelson

      • Odds to Win Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix: +600

      If Nelson wasn't immediately matched-up with Mitrione, he'd be among the favourites to win this whole tournament. "Big Country" isn't the same guy he once was but he's still mighty durable and one of the best strikers in the tournament. He also holds a previous win over Mitrione in the UFC.

      The difference here is the cage size. When Nelson knocked Mitrione out, the octagon was smaller thus limiting Mitrione's movement. Mitrione should win this matchup utilizing his superior speed and striking. However, Mitrione has been known to have mental lapses in his previous fights. And one mistake is all it takes for Nelson to land a killer blow to put Mitrione away.

      If and when Nelson upsets Mitrione, he'll be fighting a grappler in either Bader or Lawal. Nelson has struggled against wrestlers but this was against natural heavyweights who had good striking. Bader and Lawal have neither and if Nelson keeps the fight upright, he has a solid chance of knocking either one out.

      Once he's in the Finals, Nelson could face smaller heavyweights like Fedor and Sonnen, which increases his odds. If he runs into Mir again, here's hoping the former UFC champion is so diminished that he's easy pickings for Big Country.

      Any Alternate Fighter

      • Odds to Win Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix: +650

      Awhile ago, the tournament alternates were announced as Javy Ayala and/or Cheick Kongo. This is one of the best values in the bracket as you not only get two fighters for the price of one but either one could only fight once or twice. Of course, this is banking on someone pulling out due to injury but given the sport's nature, this might be the case.

      Ayala is a journeyman with a 10-6 record and recently lost to Nelson but he has the great equalizer: power. He scored a massive knockout over Russian legend Sergei Kharitonov and all five of his Bellator victories have come by finish. Also, he will be the youngest entrant at just 29-years-old and is a hefty heavyweight.

      Kongo was a surprise snub when the tournament was announced especially because he's a natural heavyweight and one of the sport's all-time veterans. The Frenchman has a diverse background and is capable anywhere the fight goes and he's riding a five-fight winning streak. He'll be a handful for anyone in the tournament. 

      Betting on Bellator/MMA

      You can head online to these Canadian-friendly sportsbooks to wager on any of these fighters at any time. They offer live betting and have solid mobile apps so you can bet wherever and whenever. Be sure to check our reviews of the sites before committing.

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