*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change
Dublin plays host to an exciting evening of MMA action as the Bellator circus comes to town on Friday.
The headline fight at the 3Arena sees Netherlands’ Gegard Mousasi put his middleweight title on the line against American Austin Vanderford.
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HOW TO WATCH
Ireland: From 6pm Virgin Media Sport (Virgin Media 2 from 10.30pm)
UK: From 6pm BBC Sport Website (BBC3 from 9pm)
NB: All fight start times below are estimates.
Any bet on Vanderford here is likely to be predicated on how high you think his ceiling is and that’s probably hard to do based on the level of opposition he has faced so far in his career. However, at current odds I’d want a bigger price to be picking him against someone who’s been fighting at the level Mousasi has and for as long as he has.
Barring age hitting him like Uriah Hall hit him back in 2015, I don’t really see any obvious reason to oppose Mousasi here.
Mousasi’s losses have come at a level above that at which Vanderford has been fighting at. Mousasi is a legend of European MMA and a man of his experience shouldn’t be at risk of underestimating Vanderford here. The American will look to make this a grappling match and to win he must make Mousasi worried about the takedown and what happens if the fight ends up there.
We have seen Mousasi taken down in the past, and if that happens again, Vanderford will need to keep it there and land his shots. Ultimately, I think it’s likely Mousasi just has too much of that veteran savviness that is hard to quantify. He’ll have seen styles like this before and with 25 minutes to do it, I think he finds the finish here.
ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW: Paddy’s complete guide to Bellator 275 on Friday
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A meeting of fighting mothers, this is one of the most exciting and high level all-Irish fights we’ll potentially ever see (although hopefully this is just the start of things to come). It’s a fight that has really captured the imagination of the Irish MMA community it’s great to see a fight like this happening on these shores.
An interesting side note is that Kavanagh helped McCourt prepare for her second pro fight back in 2018 against now UFC ranked flyweight, Manon Fiorot. To return the favour, McCourt the cornered Kavanagh for a fight in Israel in late 2019 so the pair are more than familiar with each other.
Kavanagh is coming off a decisive loss to Cris Cyborg whilst McCourt is very possibly the next in line to fight Cyborg with a decisive win here. The simplest path to victory would look to be quite clear for both. Kavanagh will want to keep the fight standing with her best chance being exploiting some of the holes we have seen in McCourt’s striking. McCourt will want to get the fight to the floor given that she will have a huge grappling advantage so making use of this would seem an obvious game plan.
Given that Kavanagh’s best chance lies in her preventing McCourt from taking the fight to the ground, I’m happy to side with the grappler here. While the money does appear to be coming for Kavanagh and her power means she’s always a danger, I think McCourt’s price, and anything north of that, represents a nice bit of value. Of course, it’s easier to look at price and disagree than it is to price it up yourself, but I’d personally make McCourt around the 4/6 mark here.
Ones to watch
Another fight that doesn’t offer a great deal of value from a punting perspective, but Khasan Magomedsharipov would certainly look like a fighter to keep an eye on. He’s a brother of UFC featherweight contender Zabit, and if he fights anything like him, he’ll be one to watch.
Brett Johns isn’t the most enticing price here but with recent troubles of late pull-outs and opponent changes, Johns will be raring to get in there against a scheduled opponent and get the win.
He’s only lost to Pedro Muhoz and Aljamain Sterling and was ultimately 5-2 prior to release from the UFC. While his placement on the prelims is somewhat bizarre, he’s a very high level fighter that you should be looking forward to watching.
Lee Hammond is certainly not a bet at the prices but if you get a chance, make sure to tune in for his fight. A former amateur World Champion he is one of the most credentialed prospects to come out of Ireland and worth keeping an eye on as his career develops.
Listening to him talk, he seems to have a mentality and humbleness about him that could give him the platform to go a long way in the sport. This looks like a nice match-up for his first professional fight in Ireland.
Enjoy the fights!