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Bellator 220: MacDonald vs. Fitch staff picks and predictions

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The BE team has made its picks for Bellator 220, and… well… it’s kind of an echo chamber. The only fight with a dissenter from consensus opinion is Fraser Coffeen going for Adam Piccolotti over former UFC and WEC lightweight champion Benson Henderson. Everything else is unanimous agreement for the betting favorites, including Bellator titleholders Rory MacDonald and Ilima-Lei Macfarlane.

Note: Predictions are entered throughout the week and collected the day before the event. Explanations behind each pick are not required and some writers opt not to do so for their own reasons. For example, if Phil Mackenzie entered all of his predictions on Wednesday without adding in any explanations, he has no idea if he’s going to be the only one siding with one fighter for any given fight.

Rory MacDonald vs. Jon Fitch

Mookie Alexander: The Bitcoin Bowl is upon us! So… how does Fitch win this? With his striking? Of course not. With his wrestling and grappling? Perhaps, but Rory has damn good takedown defense. Fitch is also in his 40s and while he has been winning, he’s objectively past his prime. This would’ve been a good measuring stick for Rory in 2010 when he was 21 years old, but unless he’s dangerously shopworn, he’ll handle Fitch easily. Rory MacDonald by TKO, round 3.

Victor Rodriguez: Fitch doesn’t have the striking chops to walk Rory down or hang with him in the pocket, and his wrestling won’t be enough against a stronger, younger, clever grappler like Rory. I’m just glad this welterweight GP is going to go a hell of a lot better than the heavyweight one. Low bar to clear, but take what you can get. Rory MacDonald by TKO.

Staff picking MacDonald: Phil, Shak, Nick, Dayne, Mookie, Fraser, Tim, Victor, Stephie
Staff picking Fitch:

Ilima-Lei Macfarlane vs. Veta Arteaga

Mookie Alexander: Arteaga can put it on her opponents with her striking, and she certainly has a chance to pull off the upset against Macfarlane, but eventually this fight will hit the ground and I don’t see how Veta can cope with Ilima-Lei’s grappling. Whereas Arteaga will likely try and make Macfarlane uncomfortable wading forward with strikes and looking to clinch up, Macfarlane is much more skilled and composed. The champ retains. Ilima-Lei Macfarlane by submission, round 2.

Victor Rodriguez: Arteaga loves rushing inside and smashing opponents in the mouth, as well as pressing them against the cage. Not confident that she can do that against a slicker striker with good takedown defense and what is probably the best submission game in any flyweight division on earth right now. Ilima-Lei MacFarlane by submission.

Staff picking Macfarlane: Phil, Shak, Nick, Dayne, Mookie, Fraser, Tim, Victor, Stephie
Staff picking Arteaga:

Benson Henderson vs. Adam Piccolotti

Mookie Alexander: Henderson has looked fine against Roger Huerta and Saad Awad. It’s still really hard to try and outwrestle and outgrapple Bendo. That’s basically what Piccolotti has to do, and I don’t see that happening. Benson Henderson by unanimous decision.

Victor Rodriguez: Sure, he may have lost a step or two. No way I’m picking against Bendo here. He’s not that washed. Adam’s good, but he’s not ready for this level. Benson Henderson by decision.

Staff picking Henderson: Phil, Shak, Nick, Dayne, Mookie, Tim, Victor
Staff picking Piccolotti: Fraser, Stephie

Phil Davis vs. Liam McGeary

Mookie Alexander: Exactly how is McGeary supposed to win this? Aggressive sub hunting from the bottom? That didn’t work the lsat time. Wrestling? Davis has the advantage by miles? Striking? Phil is historically hard to hurt and tag cleanly, and McGeary won’t have much time to strike Davis if he’s on his back for so damn long. This is a weird rematch and it should be Davis winning again. Phil Davis by unanimous decision.

Victor Rodriguez: I’ve got some questions about McGeary’s consistency, and none of the answers look good. Davis still has the world class wrestling and great submission defense, plus more consistent pressure and output. This will be a clearer win for Davis than the last bout. Phil Davis by decision.

Staff picking Davis: Phil, Shak, Nick, Dayne, Mookie, Fraser, Tim, Victor, Stephie
Staff picking McGeary:

Gaston Bolanos vs. Nathan Stolen

Mookie Alexander: Gaston Bolanos is a problem. Stolen… I don’t want to say he’s been brought in to lose, and we know this has backfired on Bellator before, but this is a showcase fight for Bolanos to do something violent. Gaston Bolanos by KO, round 1.

Victor Rodriguez: Stolen’s decent, but also has all the attributes that make a fighter susceptible to getting superstyled on by Bolaños. No one throws like Gaston, breaking bones like Gaston, working body and leg kicks at will, like Gaston. Snatching souls like Gaston, throws elbows like Gaston, and we’ll see it all unfold with much joy with Gaston. Gaston Bolaños by knockout.

Staff picking Bolanos: Shak, Nick, Dayne, Mookie, Fraser, Tim, Victor, Stephie
Staff picking Stolen:

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