Bellator MMA unleashes a huge fight card for Bellator 221 on May 11, 2019 at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois.
The main event will feature a five-round superfight between Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler and Bellator featherweight champion Patrick “Pitbull” Freire. The bout will be for Chandler’s lightweight belt as it will be Pitbull who will be moving up in weight to face his fellow world champion. Aside from the lightweight belt, this super fight will most probably decide who the greatest home-grown talent Bellator has ever produced.
In the co-main event, the second round of Bellator 221 Welterweight Grand Prix continues with former champion Douglas Lima taking on unbeaten prospect Michael “Venom” Page. Lima submitted Andrey Koreshkov in his opening round matchup last year to advance to the semifinals. Page booked a seat in the semifinals with a hard-earned unanimous decision win over Paul Daley last February.
The odds from this May event aren’t out yet but that won’t stop us from making our previews and giving out our early predictions for these two can’t miss fights. If you need MMA betting tips then read our how to bet on MMA guide.
Michael Chandler vs Patricio Freire
Michael Chandler is without doubt the best lightweight in the history of Bellator MMA. Chandler is the current lightweight king and is a three-time lightweight champion in Bellator. His three reigns as champion is the most in promotion history as are his title bouts fought (10) and finishes (11).
Chandler stands 5-8 tall with a reach of 69 inches and has a record of 19-4 with seven wins by knockout and seven wins via submission. He was a former NCAA Division 1 All-American wrestler out of the University of Missouri. The 32 year old from High Ridge, Missouri just won back the UFC lightweight title by defeating Brent Primus via unanimous decision at Bellator 212 last December 14, 2018.
Being a former All-American wrestler, Chandler has excellent wrestling ability. He is a good transitional grappler and has explosive level-changing takedowns. When he gets on top position, he has great ground strikes and effective submission moves. On his feet, Chandler is puts on an aggressive pace and puts the pressure on his opponents. He has nine first round finishes and has knockout power with his right hand. With time, he’s also improved his fundamentals and footwork.
Odds from betonline.ag as of 5/07/19
Patricio Freire is the younger brother of Bellator lightweight Patricky Freire, who also uses the same nickname-Pitbull. This Pitbull though is the decorated one, having won the Bellator Featherweight title twice and is the current Bellator Featherweight world champion. Patricio Pitbull and Michael Chandler both hold the record for most wins in Bellator with 16 so the winner of this fight gets to keep the all-time record to himself.
Pitbull stands 5-5 and has a reach of 65 inches. He has a record of 28-4 with 9 knockouts and 11 wins by submission. Two of his losses were by split decision and a third one was a TKO due to injury. In his last bout, Freire defeated Emmanuel Sanchez by unanimous decision for his second successful title defense.
There’s no secret to Patricio Freire’s fighting style. He’s known as Pitbull because he is like one inside that cage. He loves to come forward and attack with his power hooks. Freire is also a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and has 11 submission victories so he’s also dangerous on the ground. However, Pitbull is fighting in a bigger weight class for the first time and we’re not sure his advantages in his natural weight would work for him here.
In his own weight class, Pitbull has utter disregard for size and reach. He is willing to take it on the chin so that he can land a bigger punch in return. We’ve seen that too many times before. However, in this fight, he is moving up in weight and facing not just a naturally bigger fighter but one who has a knockout punch in Michael Chandler.
On the ground, you can say that Pitbull has better submission skills because of his BJJ background but don’t forget that Chandler is an elite wrestler because of his NCAA Division 1 wrestling background. So while Pitbull may be the better submission artist, Chandler may be the better grappler if this fight goes to the ground.
I like Pitbull’s style here and his ability to finish fights. I’m just not sure if he can carry his power to the next weight class against arguably the best fighter in that weight class. I think Chandler has the advantage in this fight, whether this goes to the ground or stays on its feet. I think Chandler will be the favorite in this fight as well.
Size will play and advantage here. Chandler is going to use it to his advantage and wherever Patricio Pitbull wants to fight, the champion will most certainly oblige. The last superfight in the UFC saw Gegard Mousasi welcoming Rory MacDonald to the middleweight division. Rory Mac had every skill to win but just not the size. The bigger man who packed the bigger punch won. I think that’s what happens here too, but maybe just not as quick and easy.
Prediction: Michael Chandler by stoppage in the championship rounds
Douglas Lima vs Michael Page
Douglas Lima is a former two-time Bellator welterweight champion. He was also the winner of the Bellator Season 5 and Season 8 welterweight tournaments. Lima and Hector Lombard have the second most knockouts wins in Bellator history with 8 each. Lima’s younger brother Dhiego also competes as a welterweight but in the UFC.
Lima is 6-1 with a reach of 71 inches. The Phenom has a record of 30-7 with 13 knockouts and 12 submissions. His last three losses came in the Bellator promotion and they were to Ben Askren, Andrey Koreshkov and Rory MacDonald, all in title fights. In his last fight, he submitted Andrey Koreshkov in the fifth round to advance to the next round of the Bellator Welterweight tournament.
Lima is the complete package. He is a dynamic striker with knockout power. Lima utilizes his kicks well too. Those low calf kicks are something to watch out for as they are going to slow down opponents. He is also a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt with excellent submission skills and a mean ground and pound game. He is also a very experienced fighter who has fought for several promotions in America and Canada.
Odds from betonline.ag as of 5/08/19
Michael “Venom” Page is Bellator’s highly touted prospect, unbeaten and with a big personality. A prolific and excellent striker, Page has also fought in both boxing and kickboxing professionally. Page was once considered as the best MMA fighter not signed by the UFC.
MVP is 6-3 with a 77-inch reach. Venom is undefeated in 14 bouts with 8 knockouts and 3 submissions. Prior to his last bout, five out of his last victories were by stoppage, including a flying knee knockout that cracked the skull of Cyborg Santos in 2016. In his last bout though, he got the challenge of his life against Paul Daley at the opening round of the Bellator welterweight title.
Page is known for his unorthodox but very effective striking style which leaves opponents bewildered. This style comes from freestyle kickboxing and sport karate. Page is considered one of the most dangerous fighters on the feet. However, his ground game is suspect and he hasn’t fought too many big names yet.
For sure, Michael Page will have the advantage in the stand up. Lima has excellent striking but he’s a traditional striker who Michael Page has seen before. On the other hand, Page is an unorthodox striker whose style is hard to decipher because he has a million move when on the standup. But MVP’s biggest advantage in the standup comes from his six inch reach advantage which he can use to neutralize Lima’s offense.
However, should this fight to the ground, I think this is going to be a mismatch against a BJJ black belt like Lima who’s fought the better opposition in his career. Lima is a tested warrior and although he carries seven losses in his resume, he fought the best in the business in getting those.
I think if this fight remains in the standup, Michael Page has a good chance of winning this fight. However, once Lima takes this fight to the ground, I think it’s not going to be even close with Lima dominating over Page on the ground. But first things first, Lima must be able to come close and grab MVP in order to take him down.
Lima has good grappling and excellent submission skills. No doubt he will try to take MVP down. I think Page doesn’t have good takedown defense and when he’s down, he doesn’t know what to do when on the mat. We saw MVP have problems with Paul Daley taking him down. And considering Daley isn’t even half as good al Lima is on the mat, MVP does have serious problems here.
Douglas Lima is a complete fighter and has tons of experience on his resume. Michael Page is the taller and longer fighter here and may be the more dynamic striker. I know that every round starts on the feet but if Lima is going to take Page down, I think it’s going to be easy. Sorry but I think Daley exposes MVP’s limitations. Lima is too smart not to take advantage. I think experience beats hype here.
Prediction: Douglas Lima by submission