Bellator 222 odds, predictions: Proven MMA expert picks MacDonald vs. Gracie

Rory MacDonald is known for being involved in some of the most exciting matches in mixed martial-arts history. Neiman Gracie is noted for submitting his opponents before they realize what hit them. Something has to give when the welterweights meet on Friday night in the main event of Bellator 222 at Madison Square Garden. The five-bout main Bellator 222 card starts at 10 p.m. ET and finishes up with this semifinal bout in the Welterweight World Grand Prix. MacDonald (20-5-1) is known for his relentless pressure and punishing style, but the welterweight champ has to be careful against the surging Gracie (9-0), who has submitted six of his seven Bellator opponents. MacDonald is a -145 favorite (risk $145 to win $100), while Gracie is a +115 underdog (risk $100 to $115) in the latest MacDonald vs. Gracie odds. Before you make your MacDonald vs. Gracie picks for Bellator 222, make sure you listen to what SportsLine MMA analyst Kyle Marley has to say.

Over the past year, $100 bettors who have followed Marley's picks are up more than $21,000. It's an astonishing cash rate that shows the depth of Marley's knowledge. Just last week at UFC 238, Marley advised SportsLine members to back Calvin Kattar (-170) against Ricardo Lamas +150 in an undercard lightweight bout. He said that Kattar's varied skill set would overwhelm Lamas, and that's exactly what happened as Kattar stormed his way to a first-round knockout. Marley's followers picked up another easy winner.

At UFC Fight Night 151 a month ago, Marley went a stunning 11-1 and netted $100 bettors nearly $1,000 in profit. His selections included accurately predicting that Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone (+110) would pull the upset of Al Iaquinta (-130) in the main event. Anyone who has followed Marley's advice is up huge.

Now, with the event fast approaching, Marley has carefully studied every matchup on the Bellator 222 fight card, identified the best value in the Bellator odds and released his MMA picks for every main-card fight. He's sharing those selections only over at SportsLine.

Marley knows the Bellator 222 main event could be a turning point in the career of both fighters. MacDonald, 29, is a former UFC contender known for his lethal striking, fearlessness and action-packed bouts. His UFC career includes a pair of memorable bouts against former welterweight champ Robbie Lawler, both losses. But his UFC tenure also includes wins over UFC stalwarts like Tyron Woodley and Nate Diaz.

MacDonald won the Bellator welterweight title with a decision win over Douglas Lima in January 2018. But he was stopped by Gegard Mousasi in a middleweight bout in September and struggled with the wrestling-heavy style of Fitch in his previous bout. Afterward, MacDonald told a stunned crowd that because of his newfound religious faith, he was struggling with the idea of continuing in a profession that forced him to hurt other human beings. A few days later, he publicly backed off talk of a potential retirement.

Gracie, 30, knows his name carries weight because of a family lineage that has seen thousands of pupils, amateurs and professional alike learn jiu-jitsu from one of its famed members. He is the nephew of Renzo Gracie, who competed in a One Championship mixed martial-arts event last year at age 51.

But while the Gracies have had plenty of success in jiu-jitsu and grappling competitions, they have had mixed results in professional MMA promotions. Neiman Gracie has won all seven of his Bellator bouts, and his six submissions already are tied for the organization's record. He is coming off a fourth-round submission of Ed Ruth in December. You can get his MacDonald vs. Gracie picks at SportsLine.

One of Marley's Bellator 222 picks that we'll share: He is backing favored Dillon Danis (-450) to get the best of Max Humphrey (+350) in a welterweight bout.

Danis (1-0) is a brash newcomer who gained a measure of fame by being a jiu-jitsu coach and training partner of UFC icon Conor McGregor. Humphrey (3-2) looks to get back on track after losing two of his last three bouts. 

"This is purely a setup fight for Danis to get a highlight-reel win. Bellator loves to build prospects by padding their records, and that is what is going on here," Marley told SportsLine. Book Danis over Humphrey as one of your top Belator 222 picks.

Who wins Gracie vs. MacDonald? And how exactly does each fight end? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed Bellator 222 picks, all from the incomparable expert who's up more than $21,000 on MMA in the past year, and find out. 

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