Obviously I haven’t given Bellator a lot of coverage recently. There are three reasons for this:
1. UFC coverage takes enough time as it is
If the UFC held one event per month like it used to then obviously covering Bellator would be a lot easier.
2. My analysis often isn’t needed with Bellator
Their most recent event featured some outstanding fighters: Michael Chandler, Ben Askren, “King Mo” Lawal, and Patricio “Pitbull.” Their respective opponents were David Rickels, Andrey Koreshkov, Jacob Noe, and Jared Downing. I don’t think I need to write a collective 2,400 words about how I like Chandler, Askren, Lawal, and “Pitbull” to win their respective fights.
3. Fight Metric doesn’t cover Bellator events
Since my analysis is now based on FPR, and FPR is now based on Fight Metric, I’d have a hard time providing analysis that’s any better than what others provide.
With that said Bellator is planning a pay-per-view with a headliner of Quinton “Rampage” Jackson vs. Tito Ortiz. I’ve decided to cover this fight for two reasons. One is that even though both fighters are well past their prime, they are big names in MMA and it is going to attract some interest. The other is that I’d better get a post written about the fight now before somebody (most likely Ortiz) gets injured.
I’ll be brutally honest – I would prefer to see both guys retire. Ortiz has more often than not been reduced to a punching bag in his recent fights. Jackson’s biggest strengths as a fighter were his knockout power and takedown defense, and those are both gone now. What’s left are two fighters who are shells of their former selves.
Now there are plenty of people who were astonished that Jackson opened as just a -265 favorite. I think a lot of people expected Jackson to be -400 or better. Already Jackson has climbed to -310 and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him end up somewhere close to -450. I’m not the world’s top expert on betting the fights, but the sportsbooks (Nick Kalikas) know what they’re doing. When I look at the data I see a fight that is more competitive than a lot of people expect.
The dynamics of this fight are simple. As long as the fight is standing, Jackson wins. If Ortiz can take Jackson down a few times, Ortiz wins. Let’s look at the striking portion first. On the whole, Jackson has been a very good striker throughout his career. In particular, Jackson had good punching power and an excellent chin. With the long list of incredible fighters Jackson has faced it’s astonishing that he was only knocked down twice. By contrast Ortiz was never a good striker – he has landed a grand total of one knockdown in his entire career.
In recent fights Jackson has had difficulty landing strikes but has fared much better than Ortiz. More often than not, Ortiz stands in one spot while his opponent just hits him over and over again. Jackson might be badly faded but he’s still light years ahead of Ortiz on the feet.
Where Ortiz could win this fight is if he takes Jackson down. Jackson has a reputation for great takedown defense but in his last few fights that has gone out the window. Glover Teixeira was 5-for-5 in takedowns against Jackson and Ryan Bader was 4-for-9. Ortiz isn’t as good as Teixeira or Bader at takedowns at this point in his career but he’s still a threat to get Jackson down.
The challenge for Ortiz will be to keep Jackson on his back. Jackson is decent at getting back to his feet and Ortiz has had trouble keeping fights on the ground. With how badly Ortiz gets beaten up on the feet these days… he needs to keep the fight on the ground this time. The best way Ortiz can do that is to land a takedown in such a way that he achieves side mount or full mount. If Ortiz can establish a dominant position he should be able to maintain it and win the round, or even threaten to submit Jackson.
Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t expect the fight to play out that way. I still think the most likely way this fight unfolds is that Jackson stuffs the takedown attempts and punishes Ortiz on the feet. Jackson by TKO is the most likely way this fight ends in my opinion.
If I had to give out betting advice… the data says Ortiz is good value but honestly, stay far away from this fight. Why would you want to risk your money on two fighters who are badly faded, with questionable motivation? It might seem like Jackson is a safe pick but how would you feel if he weighs in at 211 pounds?
Pick: Somebody gets injured… but if not, Jackson by TKO