Bellator MMA returns to Long Beach on Saturday for Bellator 286. Theon the Bellator roster and promises some thrilling action.
In the main event, Patricio Pitbull will defend his featherweight title against top contender Adam Borics. Former featherweight champion AJ McKee will also be in action, moving up to lightweight where he will face UFC veteran Spike Carlyle in a three-round bout.
"I think my fight IQ is very big, so I will definitely use that. I already show it; I already know how to beat a champion, because I already beat a former champion. I will use that," Borics said at media day. "This is going to be the Fight of the Night, so everybody should watch this fight. We're going to steal the show. You will see on Saturday night."
The rest of the undercard fills out with some rising prospects and veterans looking to hold serve in their respective divisions. Rising contender Aaron Pico is back in a featherweight contest against UFC vet Jeremy Kennedy. A win for Pico would mark his seventh straight and could put him in line for a title opportunity against the winner of the night's main event. Plus, former bantamweight king Juan Archuleta is back in a catchweight contest against Enrique Barzola.
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It's the kind of card that should have MMA fans excited and also garner the interest of sports betters everywhere. With that in mind, let's take a look at our choices for the best bets on the Bellator 286 card.
Odds via Caesars Sportsbook
Top moneyline picks
Patricio Pitbull (-150) vs. Adam Borics: To be honest, this line does not make sense. Borics is a fine fighter but his resume, even at 18-1, does not come close to Pitbull. In his most recent fight, Borics earned a title shot by going five rounds with Mads Burnell in a very hard battle. While the scorecards were wide, Borics ate some very clean shots from Burnell. Burnell has a single knockout in his career, so going toe-to-toe didn't pose much risk to Borics. Pitbull is a very, very different story. Pitbull is a truly balanced fighter, with 11 wins by knockout, 12 by submission and 10 by decision. Borics doesn't really have the power to trouble Pitbull -- who has one TKO loss on his record, which was the result of an injury -- and grappling likely isn't the path to victory for Borics, either. Borics has tremendous cardio and maybe he can put on such a pace that it leaves Pitbull gassed in the championship rounds, but applying such a pace requires engaging directly over and over and every moment of engagement is a moment Borics is in danger. Go with the guy who has proven himself against the best on the Bellator roster at a delicious-looking price.
Max Rohskopf (-120) vs. Mike Hamel: Rohskopf got a bad shake in the UFC, making his Octagon debut on less than one week's notice and retiring in his corner after the second round. While UFC president Dana White defended Rohskopf after the fight, the promotion then cut him from the roster. He's a guy who made his way through high school and college as a wrestler, and no one becomes a highly-touted wrestler at a major university if they don't have toughness. After taking time off, Rohskopf won a pair of fights for Cage Warriors and now is making his Bellator debut. Hamel has a 9-5 record but one loss came via disqualification and he lost decisions to Usman Nurmagomedov and Adam Borics, with the Borics loss a split decision. Hamel isn't an easy out, but he is the kind of opponent Rohskopf beats if he is on his game mentally and physically.
- AJ McKee (-440) vs. Spike Carlyle
- Islam Mamedov (-270) vs. Nick Browne
- Khalid Murtazaliev (-340) vs. Khadzhimurat Bestaev
Total (+118): McKee is making his lightweight debut against Spike Carlyle, who has brought the same wild style he employed in the UFC to the Bellator cage. That's the exact kind of style someone as smart and technical as McKee feasts on and it's hard to see McKee losing outside of just getting caught by a perfect shot. Mamedov rebounded from a surprising split decision loss to Benson Henderson with a sub-two minute victory. In Nick Browne, he faces a talented opponent, but one who hasn't faced, let alone beaten, anyone of Mamedov's level. Murtazaliev is a risky pick who did lose his most recent fight, a fight in which he was a heavy favorite. Still, in Khadzhimurat Bestaev, Murtazaliev has an opponent he should be able to handle to get back on the winning track.