On Friday, July 12th, Bellator will be live from the WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Oklahoma, for Bellator 224: Budd vs. Rubin. This MMA event will be televised on Paramount Network and streamed live on DAZN.
The headline fight of the night is a women’s featherweight title bout as Julia Budd puts her title on the line against Olga Rubin.
The co-main event of the night is a middleweight contest between former champ Rafael Carvalho and Chidi Njokuani. The main card will feature two more fights as Juliana Velasquez battles Kristina Williams in a women’s flyweight bout and Kiichi Kunimoto takes on Ed Ruth in a men’s welterweight clash.
Bellator 224 is scheduled to begin at 6:45 PM ET with an 11-fight preliminary card. The four-fight main card will begin at 9 PM ET.
Bellator betting sites have listed betting odds for the main card only. Let’s step inside the betting octagon to examine these odds, look for any betting value or potential upsets, and KO our picks.
Ed Ruth is the largest betting favorite for Bellator 224, which also makes Kunimoto the largest underdog of the event.
Kunimoto comes into this bout on a two-fight win streak, with both of those contests taking place in Rizin. Kiichi is a former UFC fighter who went 3-2 inside the octagon. However, he lost his last two fights with the UFC, and that led to his departure.
Kunimoto hasn’t fought since August 2018. Ten of his twenty pro victories have come via submission.
Ed Ruth is one of Bellator’s top prospects, especially in the welterweight division. He was a former three-time national wrestling champ in college where he helped lead the Penn State Nittany Lions wrestling team to prominence.
Ruth started off his pro career going 6-0 with all six of those fights under the Bellator banner. He suffered his first loss last December to the impressive Neiman Gracie and was forced to tap out late in the fourth round of the fight.
Despite his strong wrestling background, Ruth has seen five of his six victories come via KO/TKO, which is exactly what he’s seeking in this fight on Friday:
“Just from the videos, I see that he’s not big on striking. He doesn’t like to be on his feet. He wants to try and get close and wrestle, and that’s playing into my area. But as far as the fight goes, I’m looking for a knockout.”
Ruth is confident that he will bounce back from his first career loss. He’s taken that defeat in stride and is learning from it so that he can evolve into a more dominant fighter.
It’s clear that Ruth is the better athlete in this opening bout of the main card. He’s shown solid striking skills that complement his wrestling background. Kunimoto isn’t a great striker and will be in trouble if this fight goes to the mat.
I’m taking Ruth to get the stoppage victory on Friday. Three of Kunimoto’s seven losses have been stoppages, and I believe he will receive his fourth one this week.
For all of those PSU fans out there, “We Are!”
Bellator Bet: Ed Ruth (-420)
Juliana Velasquez (8-0) vs. Kristina Williams (3-1)
Juliana Velasquez (-245)
Kristina Williams (+175)
This is the first of two women’s fights on the main card and one of five women’s fights for the event. It features the undefeated Velasquez who puts her undefeated record on the line against Williams.
Speculations are rising that this bout could become a #1 contender’s fight for the flyweight title.
Velasquez debuted with Bellator in December 2017 and has gone 3-0 with the promotion. Four of her eight wins have come via stoppages with three of those being KO/TKO victories. Juliana hasn’t fought since last December when she won via SD over Lara.
Williams has spent all of her time with Bellator since she debuted in October 2017. However, Williams hasn’t fought in nearly eight months.
Three of her four pro fights have gone the distance. Despite having fewer fights and wins than her opponent, a win for Williams would give her a huge boost and make her more of a marketable female fighter for Bellator.
Velasquez comes into this fight with a lot of respect for her opponent. Nonetheless, Juliana aims to take the fight to Williams and come away with the victory:
“I know she had a career (in combat sports) before MMA. I have a lot of respect for Kristina and what she’s been able to do. She is a very tough girl. The way she fights, her standup is really good. My goal is to take this fight to the ground and do what I do best. I’m going to bring the fight to her. I want to put the pressure on her all the time and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”
I’m very confident that Velasquez will get the win, but I’m not sure if she will accomplish that feat inside the distance. Combined, these two women have gone to the scorecards in 7 of 12 fights. With that said, I’m going to take Velasquez to win via unanimous decision.
Bellator Bet: Juliana Velasquez (-245)
Rafael Carvalho (15-3) vs. Chidi Njokuani (18-6)
Rafael Carvalho (-120)
Chidi Njokuani (-120)
This middleweight fight has the closest betting odds of the entire event. Both fighters are coming off a loss and looking to re-establish themselves in the division.
Additionally, both men offer solid betting value based on their available odds.
Chidi Njokuani has been with Bellator since November 2015. Over that span, he’s amassed a record of 5-2 with the promotion. However, he has lost two of his last three fights, including his last contest, which was in November 2018. Ten of his 18 pro victories have come via KO/TKO.
However, all six of his losses have come via stoppages.
For this fight, Chidi has prepared for standing and going to the mat. Additionally, he’s looking to keep the pace high in order to wear down his opponent:
“I am going to try to pick him apart and go where ever it goes. I’m just getting ready for wherever he wants to take me. He keeps going but he looks really gassed and tired [in later rounds]. But I expect it to be a scrap. I’m going to go out there and really try to push the pace.”
Carvalho is the former Bellator middleweight champ as he lost his belt to Gegard Mousasi 14 months ago. He then followed that up with a split decision loss to Machida last December. However, some fans believe that Carvalho won that fight.
Nevertheless, the former champ has taken his lumps and professes growth from them. He also still has confidence in his abilities and believes he will defeat Chidi on Friday:
“I’ve fought many strikers. Everyone has their own style. I don’t have much to say. I don’t know him too well. I leave strategy up to my coaches. I mostly concern myself with training. Of course, I respect my opponent… I simply see myself winning this bout. I just don’t know how yet. Every fight is unique. It starts one day and ends another.”
Twelve of Carvalho’s 15 wins have come via KO/TKO. He certainly has the chance to pick up his 13th TKO/KO win in this fight since Njokuani prefers to stand and strike.
With that said, I believe Rafael will strike and throw kicks until he sees an opening to take down his opponent. From there, I believe Carvalho will control the fight and get the ground and pound win or find a submission hold.
This one will not go the distance.
Bellator Bet: Rafael Carvalho (-120)
Julia Budd (12-2) vs. Olga Rubin (6-0)
Julia Budd (-280)
Olga Rubin (+200)
Julia Budd comes in as the champ and a sizable betting favorite. She will put her title on the line against a dangerous striker in the undefeated Olga Rubin.
Rubin has won all six of her pro fights including her last three fights, which have taken place in Bellator. Olga has three KO/TKO wins on her resume and has enough power to knock out anyone she faces.
Although her last two fights have gone the distance, Rubin was dominating in those bouts. She defeated Dandois last December, who is widely regarded as a contender in both the lightweight and featherweight divisions.
Olga’s last fight came in February when she faced a last-minute substitution in Razafiarison. Despite the adversity, she was able to overcome the change of opponents and earn another UD win.
This week, Rubin recognizes that she’s facing a tough opponent, but Olga is focused on being bigger and stronger than Budd:
“Just trying to improve my own thing. I’m fully aware that I’m fighting such a physically strong and dominant opponent. I am trying to be bigger and stronger, not necessarily working to her abilities, but working on myself.”
Budd is probably the most talented female fighter that the majority of MMA fans haven’t heard of. For starters, the champ hasn’t lost since November 2011. That was the second defeat of her career, and it came via submission to Ronda Rousey.
Ten months prior, Budd suffered the first loss of her career as she was KO’d by Amanda Nunes. That’s two losses against two of the greatest female fighters in the history of the sport.
Sandwiched between Rousey and Nunes was a win over Germaine de Randamie, who is headlining UFC Fight Night Sacramento this weekend. Budd is on a ten-fight win streak, and five of those wins have come via stoppage.
This week, Budd looks to cement her place as the top female fighter in Bellator and one of the best in all of MMA. Additionally, she really wants to take on Cyborg in the near future.
Of course, Cyborg would have to finish up her deal with the UFC and then sign with Bellator.
Ironically, it was Cyborg who Strikeforce wanted to match Budd up with in her first fight for the company back in 2009. That fight didn’t take place, but Budd hasn’t forgotten that possibility. Additionally, she believes that fate will bring the two of them together inside the Bellator cage.
As for her opponent this week, Budd is excited to take on the talented Rubin:
“I watched her fight Cindy Dandois. I watched her fight Iony Razafiarison. I watched those two fights, and I was excited when they said, ‘Well, how do you feel about fighting Olga next?’ I was like, ‘Right on. Bring it on.’ I think overall, she’s pretty well rounded. I think I match up amazingly against that, so I’m excited.”
There’s a reason why this will be the third straight time Budd has main-evented a card. She’s arguably the top female fighter outside of the UFC, and she’s capable of winning via striking or on the mat.
For this fight, we could see a TKO/KO as both women like to stand up and strike. However, I believe that Budd also has the grappling skills to grind out a win on the mat. Rubin hasn’t shown a ground game that can defeat Budd.
I’m taking Budd to win this fight inside the distance. I’m just not sure if she will find a submission hold on the mat or end the fight via ground and pound. Either way, this should be an exciting battle.
Martial Arts has been a way of life for @JuliaBudd.
Bellator 224 might not be as exciting on paper as 222 or 223, but it should deliver plenty of action like the other two events did. The main card features some of the promotion’s top fighters in different divisions like Budd, Carvalho, and Ruth.
Additionally, the entire Bellator lineup features five women fights.
Unfortunately, as of this writing, MMA betting sites don’t have odds for the entire Bellator 224 event. So, the betting analysis above is just for the main card.
With that said, I do look forward to this event on Friday night. I believe there’s potential for excitement inside the cage and potential to win some money on these fights.
Bellator 224 Full Card
Julia Budd (c) vs . Olga Rubin
Rafael Carvalho Chidi Njokuani
Juliana Velasquez vs. Kristina Williams
Ed Ruth Kiichi Kunimoto
AJ Agazarm vs. Jacob Landin
Kiefer Crosbie vs. Mike Jackson
Bruna Ellen vs. Elina Kallionidou
Nainoa Dung vs. Brad Robison
Christian Edwards vs. Justin Vargas
Gabriel Varga vs. Jamese Taylor
Arlene Blencowe vs. Amanda Bell
Will Fleury vs. Antonio Jones
Lucas Brennan vs. Thomas Lopez
Jordan Young vs. Joel Bauman
Kona Oliveira vs. Joseph Holmes
Leslie Smith vs. Sinead Kavanagh
As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at GamblingSites.org to become the self-professed "King of the Blog" in his first year with the site. ...
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