The Bloody Elbow staff has made its predictions for Bellator 221, and most of us are backing lightweight champion Michael Chandler to defend his title against featherweight champion Patricio “Pitbull” Freire. As for the welterweight tournament semifinals, it’s a clean sweep for former champ Douglas Lima over Michael Page.
Note: Predictions are entered throughout the week and collected the day before the event. Explanations behind each pick are not required and some writers opt not to do so for their own reasons. For example, if Phil Mackenzie entered all of his predictions on Wednesday without adding in any explanations, he has no idea if he’s going to be the only one siding with one fighter for any given fight.
Michael Chandler vs. Patricio Freire
Mookie Alexander: A genuinely great fight between two of Bellator’s greatest ever fighters. This will surely settle the Chandler vs. Pitbull Brothers rivalry once and for all. It’s one thing for Chandler to beat Patricky twice, and that’s no easy feat, but to knock off Patricio to deny him the chance to be a double champion? That’d be a big deal. But I think Patricio can win this. He is more well-rounded than his brother, who’s essentially a striker first, second, and third. Patricio is an outstanding fighter who has the striking to trouble Chandler and put his lights out, and he has an underrated submission game. The main concerns for Patricio would be letting the rivalry get to his head and he makes ill-conceived decisions, and then there’s Chandler’s top-notch wrestling. Ahh screw it, I love the Pitbull Brothers, I want to see history made. Patricio Pitbull by KO, round 2.
Victor Rodriguez: I can’t pick a Pitbull brother against the best wrestleboxer in all of Bellator, especially when said wrestleboxer has great submission defense and is still in his prime. The idea of a Bellator dual champion is alluring, but no. Michael Chandler by TKO.
Staff picking Chandler: Nick, Dayne, Phil, Tim, Victor
Staff picking Pitbull: Mookie, Stephie
Michael Page vs. Douglas Lima
Mookie Alexander: Yeah I don’t really think MVP is that good. And if NCAA Daley can take him down, Douglas Lima is more than capable of doing the same thing and working him over. And of course he’s a much more well-rounded striker than Daley, so short of some flashy KO that would give Page by far his most impressive win, this is Lima’s all the way. Douglas Lima by TKO, round 3.
Victor Rodriguez: Page is limited, and won’t get away with his usual shenanigans here. He’ll be pressured and leg kicked repeatedly, forced to clinch against his will and won’t be able to get his takedowns off when or where he wants them. Lima won’t fall for the flimflam Page likes to toss out there, whether it;s the feints, spinning stuff or anything else. Remember, this is a five-rounder. Page is gonna hit his ceiling here. Douglas Lima by decision.
Staff picking Page:
Staff picking Lima: Nick, Mookie, Dayne, Phil, Tim, Stephie, Victor
A.J. McKee vs. Pat Curran
Mookie Alexander: It’s just really hard to get past Curran’s inactivity and the fact that McKee looks like a supreme athlete who’s got serious potential to be a Bellator champion down the line. Powerful striking, very well-rounded game, A+ athleticism, he has it all. Curran is still a huge leap in competition and at his peak, he was one of the top-ten featherweights in the world regardless of promotion. Is he still that guy, though? I don’t think so. He will test McKee’s chin and his takedown defense, but I think McKee outpoints him. A.J. McKee by unanimous decision.
Victor Rodriguez: McKee is lethal, and has all the upside in the world right now. Curran’s got the veteran savvy and some slick striking chops with nice submission skills, but A.J. brings another level of offense to this game. A.J. McKee by decision.
Staff picking McKee: Nick, Mookie, Dayne, Phil, Stephie, Victor
Staff picking Curran: Tim
Jake Hager vs. TJ Jones
Mookie Alexander: TJ Jones was obviously brought in to lose, but hey, beef plant workers are people too! Put some respect in this man’s name… preferably before the fight, because I have a feeling after the fight he’s going to be mocked. Jake Hager by TKO, round 1.
Victor Rodriguez: Is the Giant Gonzales dead or something? Was Telia Tuli busy on the set of Hawaii Five-O again? Whatever. Jake Hager by TKO, round 2.
Staff picking Hager: Nick, Mookie, Dayne, Phil, Tim, Stephie, Victor
Staff picking Jones:
Tywan Claxton vs. James Bennett
Mookie Alexander: Claxton is a talented prospect who’s clearly going to crack the code that is James Bennett. Get it? Code? Because he codes. I’m not a comedian. Tywan Claxton by TKO, round 1.
Victor Rodriguez: Claxton’s development is further along than Bennett’s is right now, and he’s a far more athletic fighter that still manages to be very smart with what he does in the cage. Tywan Claxton by TKO, round 2.
Staff picking Claxton: Nick, Mookie, Dayne, Tim, Stephie, Victor
Staff picking Bennett: