MMA betting: Ryan Bader has beaten Fedor Emelianenko once, but can he repeat the magic?
Fedor Emelianenko has been an overwhelming favorite in nearly every one of his bouts in a legendary career that began in 2000 and ends in the main event of Bellator 290 on Saturday at The Forum in Inglewood, California, when he takes on Ryan Bader for the heavyweight title.
Emelianenko is 46 now and a far cry from the fighter who dominated the sport in the early part of this century.
At BetMGM, Bader is a -375 favorite. No is the favorite on the proposition bet, "Will the fight go the distance?" No is a staggering -1400 while yes is +650. And the first round is a heavy favorite on the prop bet asking when the fight will end:
When will the fight finish?
Fight to go the distance
There's not a lot of value on any of those lines. Bader as a nearly 4-1 favorite is a tough play, despite the fact that he knocked Emelianenko out at just 35 seconds of the first round in the same building on Jan. 26, 2019.
Emelianenko has gone 2-0 since, winning by first-round KOs over 41-year-old Quinton "Rampage" Jackson on Dec. 29, 2019, and over 36-year-old Tim Johnson on Oct. 23, 2021. It's hard to figure what Emelianenko has left in the tank because so many of his recent opponents have been at advanced ages and near the end of the line.
Bader was 35 when he kayoed Emelianenko. Before that, Emelianenko fought 41-year-old Chael Sonnen, 39-year-old Frank Mir, 39-year-old Matt Mitrione and 36-year-old Fabio Maldonado. So Emelianenko has been on the MMA senior tour for a while and now, even Bader is closing in fast on 40.
Nine of Emelianenko's last 10 fights have ended in the first round with only his June 17, 2016, win over Maldonado getting past the first. That fight, in Moscow, was originally ruled a draw and later changed to an Emelianenko win.
Emelianenko does have power, and at +280 to win, that could be a value. But it's a stretch to see him beating Bader, and it's been nearly seven years since he's even been into the second round. That leads me to want to play Bader at -165 to win in the first round. But it's usually fool's play to try to guess a round, so I'm going to pass on that.
I hate laying nearly 4-1, but in this instance, I'll make an exception. I'll lay the $375 and bet Bader to win. It's not going to be a big score, but that seems like the most realistic scenario.
Bellator 290 bet: Ryan Bader -375
More Bellator 290 and UFC Vegas 68 bets
Derrick Lewis +190 to win over Sergey Spivac at UFC Vegas 68. I'll also lay -225 and bet that the fight finishes by KO/TKO/DQ.
Tatsuro Taira -140 to win by submission over Jesus Santos Aguilar at UFC Vegas 6.
Ali Isaev at +110 to win over Steve Mowry at Bellator 290.
Johnny Eblen at +105 to win by decision over Anatoly Tokov at Bellator 290.