The field of eight is outstanding though one fighter is a clear favorite. He just happens to be the Bellator Light Heavyweight champion.
The safe pick for bettors in this event is current champion Vadim Nemkov. Since signing on with Bellator, Nemkov is a perfect 5-0 and 12-2 overall. He is favored to win the event given +180 odds.
Nemkov will have a tough go in the quarterfinal round where he will face Phil Davis, who is 22-5-1 overall and 9-2 in Bellator. Davis is a longshot at +1600 to win the tournament, but he is 3-1 in rematches.
Nemkov beat Davis in 2018 by split decision. He will have the advantage of that win plus he is just 28 years old. Davis is 36. After beating Davis for a second time, the road will get even tougher for Nemkov.
Bader is 27-6-1 overall in MMA and 5-1-1 in Bellator. He draws Lyoto Machida in the quarterfinals and is a -500 favorite to win that fight. Machida is now in his 40s which explains why Bader is such a big favorite.
Bader lost his light heavyweight title to Nemkov and would love nothing more than to get it back. He is listed at +550 to win the Grand Prix. The 42-year-old Machida is 0-3 in rematches. That does not bode well for him in the quarterfinals.
Not too long ago, Johnson was a top three light heavyweight. The two-time former UFC light heavyweight title challenger will get into the cage for the first time since 2017 when he takes on Yoel Romero.
Johnson, who is listed at +700 to win the Grand Prix, is actually an underdog to the 43-year-old Romero in the quarterfinals. Johnson is 22-6 overall and this will be his inaugural Bellator fight. Romero is still a dangerous fighter, but he has lost four of his last five fights. Romero is getting +400 odds to win the Grand Prix.
One of the true sleepers to win the Grand Prix is Anderson who is listed at +1000. He spent six years in the UFC with a 14-5 overall record but 5-1 in his last six fights. One of his wins was over Glover Teixeira, the No. 1-ranked light heavyweight in the UFC. He signed on to Bellator in 2020.
Like Anderson, Johnson opened as an underdog in his quarterfinal match. He’ll face Dovletdzhan Yashimuradov, who is also listed at +1000 to win the Grand Prix.
The real longshot to win the Grand Prix is Davis, who has one of the more impressive Bellator resumes. He is 9-2 in BMMA and 22-5-1 overall. His only BMMA losses are to former or current champions and by split decision.
Still, Davis finds himself listed at +1600 to win it all. One of the big reasons is his first opponent – Nemkov. Davis is a +275 underdog in the quarterfinal match with Nemkov, who beat Davis by split decision in 2018.
Davis is 3-1 in rematches making him a legitimate contender against Nemkov and the rest of the field in the Bellator Light Heavyweight Grand Prix.
A native of Western Pennsylvania, Rick, a Generation X-er, who now lives just north of the Motor City, Detroit, Michigan. A former high school, college, and professional football player, Rick now spends his time as a high school coach and as a personal quarterback trainer. An all-state high school quarterback, he went on to become an Academic All-American at Division II Indiana University of PA. He later coached at his alma mater helping lead the program to the 1990 NCAA Division II national championship game. Rick has also served as a high school head coach and as an assistant in Pennsylvania, New York, and Michigan.
His passion for sports writing started when he was the sports editor for his high school newspaper and continued when he worked as a sportswriter for the Jamestown (New York) Post-Journal in the early 1990s. A true sports fanatic, Rick enjoys all things Pittsburgh: Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins. The Immaculate Reception, the 1979 We Are Family Pirates, and the ’91-’92 Penguins are among his favorites. After working as an educator and athletic director for several years, he again took up sports writing and has contributed to several websites and publications, including Coach & Player magazine, X & O Labs, American Football Monthly, and many others.
When not consumed with coaching, watching, thinking about, or writing about football and other seasonal sports, he finds himself working out like he was still in college and reading everything from military history to Brad Thor novels. Rick has also been chasing rock god stardom as a drummer who has played with bands that have opened for the likes of Fuel, Days of the New, and Alien Ant Farm. He continues to play with his church worship group. Most importantly, Rick is married to the love of his life, Lisa, and has two beautiful daughters.