Bellator 263: Freire vs. McKee Betting Preview, Odds and Picks

By in MMA on
18 Minute Read
Bellator-263

In a rare move, Bellator will be live on Saturday, July 31st, from Inglewood, California, instead of their normal Friday night slot and venue. Additionally, they will be going head-to-head with UFC on ESPN 28 which is also not their normal booking.

Yet, with a stacked card, Bellator appears to have the advantage heading into this weekend’s MMA battle of the top two promotions in the world.

Bellator 263: Freire vs McKee features a featherweight world title fight as the grand prix comes to an end and Pitbull Freire defends his title against the undefeated, home grown A.J. McKee. It’s arguably the biggest matchup that Bellator can offer at this point in time.

But, that’s not all. The main card also features plenty of top stars and ranked fighters like Usman Nurmagomedov, Brent Primus, Islam Mamedov, Goiti Yamauchi, Emmanuel Sanchez and Mads Burnell.

The seven fight preliminary card will begin at 7pm ET via online platforms and the five bout main card will begin at 9pm ET on Showtime.

Let’s step inside the betting octagon to examine the latest Bellator 263 betting odds, identify any betting value, and choke out these Bellator 263 predictions via neck crank.

Bellator 263 Preliminary Card

The preliminary portion of Bellator 263 is currently scheduled for seven fights with a 7pm ET start time via Bellator’s online platforms.

Justin Barry vs. Daniel Compton

  • Justin Barry (NA)
  • Daniel Compton (NA)

This bout is expected to be the opening contest for Bellator 263.

Justin Barry is making his professional debut in this matchup and there’s not a lot to go off of. He’s the slightly bigger fighter in this bout which will be contested at 190 pounds.

Daniel Compton made his Bellator debut in September 2019 and lost via 2nd round submission. He hasn’t fought since that contest and is 2-2 in his last four fights.

Three of his four pro wins have come via submission. He’s 1-0 when going the distance.

This fight feels like a booking to help Barry get his first pro win. All three of Compton’s losses have come via stoppage with two by way of TKO/KO.

I’m taking Barry to win this bout via TKO/KO.

Justin Barry vs. Daniel Compton –Justin Barry (NA)

Brian Moore vs. Jordan Winski

  • Brian Moore (+105)
  • Jordan Winski (-125)
  • Over (-170)/Under (+140) 2.5 rounds

This bout was originally scheduled for Jared Scoggins to take on Brian Moore, but Scoggins was unable to compete due to testing positive for covid. Jordan Winski agreed to take this bout on less than one week’s notice.

Moore comes in as the slight underdog despite having fought with Bellator since late 2016. He’s gone 4-3 overall inside the Bellator cage and enters this weekend’s bout on a two fight winning streak.

Moore last fought in October 2020 and beat Simone D’Anna via 2nd round KO. Prior to that, he beat Binh Son Le via unanimous decision in May 2019.

10 of his 13 pro wins have come via stoppage with six by way of submission. He’s 3-4 when going the distance.

Winski will make his Bellator debut this weekend and has won seven of his last eight pro fights. He enters this weekend on a two fight winning streak but hasn’t competed in 26 months.

Six of his 11 pro wins have come via stoppage with three apiece for submission and TKO/KO. He’s 5-0 when going the distance.

Since we haven’t seen Winski fight in a while, there’s some uncertainty as to how this bout will unfold. With that in mind, let’s play it safe and go with the oddsmakers on this one by taking this bout to go Over 2.5 rounds (-170) and the full 15 minutes (-160).

In their careers, when going to the scorecards, Winski is 5-0 and Moore is 3-4. Take Winski to win this fight via unanimous decision.

Brian Moore vs. Jordan Winski –Winski (-125)

Over 2.5 rounds (-170)

Over 2.5 rounds (-170)

Fight goes the distance (-160)

Georgi Karakhanyan vs. Kiefer Crosbie

  • Georgi Karakhanyan (-265)
  • Kiefer Crosbie (+205)
  • Over (-145)/Under (+115) 2.5 rounds

Crosbie is a large underdog in this matchup despite having a solid 4-2 record with Bellator. He debuted in late 2018 and started off 4-1.

However, Crosbie lost in his last outing which came in October 2020. The fight ended via doctor stoppage after the first round. His other loss came via DQ due to an illegal knee. So, he really hasn’t been truly defeated in his pro career.

Five of his eight pro wins have come via stoppage with three by way of TKO/KO. He’s 3-0 when going the distance.

Karakhanyan is 2-3 in his last five bouts, but did win in his last outing which came in November 2020. He beat Bryce Logan via split decision.

22 of his 30 pro wins have come via stoppage with 15 by way of submission. He’s 8-8-1 when going the distance.

Karakhanyan shared that Crosbie contacted him via social media:

“I’m looking to go out there and beat another Irish guy. He messaged me, told me he was going to beat me up pretty bad, so I’m looking forward to that. I should be able to take the fight anywhere I want to. You try to trade with me, I’m going to knock you out. He sent me a message on Instagram, ‘get ready to retire’. It is very dangerous to fight someone like me.”

Since Crosbie has never truly been stopped in his career and has gone the distance in two of his last three bouts, I like this fight to go Over 2.5 rounds (-145) and the full 15 minutes (-125). Additionally, Karakhanyan has gone the distance in five of his last seven contests and two in a row.

As for the winner, I am leaning towards the veteran here as Karakhanyan has fought tougher competition in and out of Bellator than Crosbie has. Take Karakhanyan to win via decision.

Georgi Karakhanyan vs. Kiefer Crosbie –Karakhanyan (-265)

Over 2.5 rounds (-145)

Fight goes the distance (-125)

Johnny Cisneros vs. Joshua Jones

  • Johnny Cisneros (+155)
  • Joshua Jones (-185)
  • Over (+125)/Under (-155) 2.5 rounds

Cisneros is currently on his second stint with Bellator having gone 1-4 in his first stint from 2014-2017. In his second run with the promotion, Johnny has gone 2-1 but hasn’t fought since September 2019 when he beat Mike Jasper via TKO due to Jasper suffering an ankle injury.

Eight of his 13 pro wins have come via stoppage with seven by way of TKO/KO. He’s 5-3 when going the distance.

Jones is 3-3 in his time with Bellator having last fought in January 2020. He’s 2-1 in his last three fights. Eight of his 10 pro wins have come via stoppage with four apiece for submission and TKO/KO. He’s 2-1 when going the distance.

This fight is hard to predict due to the hiatus for both men. If we’re to go off what we’ve seen of each fighter in Bellator then we have to take Jones in this matchup.

I don’t see this bout going the full 15 minutes as I expect both men to fatigue quickly which will leave them open for a devastating TKO/KO. With that in mind, I believe it will be Jones to walk away with the TKO/KO victory in this matchup.

Johnny Cisneros vs. Joshua Jones –Jones (-185)

Under 2.5 rounds (-155)

Fight doesn’t go the distance (-150)

Khasan Magomedsharipov vs. Jonathan Quiroz

  • Khasan Magomedsharipov (-650)
  • Jonathan Quiroz (+450)

This bout was originally scheduled for Nekruz Mirkhojaev to take on Khasan Magomedsharipov, but Mirkhojaev withdrew from this contest due to undisclosed reasons. Jonathan Quiroz agreed to the fight one less than one week’s notice.

This is Quiroz’s second bout with Bellator, but the first since September 2019 when he made his promotional debut. Unfortunately, that debut ended with a loss via unanimous decision. Quiroz is 1-3 in his last four bouts.

Two of his three pro wins have come via stoppage with one apiece for TKO/KO and submission. He’s 1-3 when going the distance.

Khasan Magomedsharipov, brother of UFC contender Zabit, will make his Bellator debut this weekend after signing with the promotion in February.

He last fought in December 2020 and won via 1st round TKO. Four of his five pro wins have come via stoppage with three by way of submission. He’s 1-0 when going the distance.

Although there’s no Over/Under listed for this bout as of this writing, I would expect it to be placed at 1.5 rounds. With that in mind, this bout should end within the first round of this contest.

Magomedsharipov has four 1st round victories and Quiroz has one first round loss. The only question is how Magomedsharipov will win. Will it be via TKO/KO or submission?

Either way, look for Magomedsharipov to announced his Bellator arrival in style.

Magomedsharipov vs. Quiroz –Magomedsharipov (-650)

Fight ends inside the distance (-225)

Gadzhi Rabadanov vs. Daniel Carey

  • Gadzhi Rabadanov (-450)
  • Daniel Carey (+350)
  • Over (-175)/Under (+145) 2.5 rounds

At 4-2 with Bellator, Carey is looking to rebound after a 2nd round KO loss to Aaron Pico in January 2020. He’s now 1-2 in his last three fights with both coming via TKO/KO.

Five of his seven pro wins have come via stoppage with three by way of submission. He’s 2-2 when going the distance.

Rabadanov will make his Bellator debut this weekend. The former Eagle Fighting champ is 7-1-1 in his last nine bouts and last competed in February when he won via decision.

10 of his 15 pro wins have come via stoppage with five apiece for submission and TKO/KO. He’s 5-1-1 when going the distance.

Although his nickname is “Scary,” there really is nothing scary about Daniel Carey. I wouldn’t be surprised if he eats the third TKO/KO loss of his career.

With that said, let’s just play it safe and stick with the trends by going with the Over 2.5 rounds (-175) and for the contest to go the full 15 minutes.

Six of Rabadanov’s last seven bouts, including three in a row, have gone the distance. That’s why we’re taking this bout to go to the scorecards. Once with the judges, Rabadanov will win via unanimous decision.

Gadzhi Rabadanov vs. Daniel Carey –Rabadanov (-450)

Over 2.5 rounds (-175)

Fight goes the distance (-165)

Vanessa Porto vs. Ilara Joanne

  • Vanessa Porto (-265)
  • Ilara Joanne (+205)
  • Over (-260)/Under (+200) 2.5 rounds

In what should be the featured fight of the prelims, Vanessa Porto will battle Ilara Joanne in this women’s flyweight contest.

This bout was originally scheduled to take place at Bellator 260 roughly six weeks ago, but the fight was cancelled after officials revealed that Porto didn’t obtain proper medical clearance.

The fight was initially scheduled at a catchweight of 128 pounds since it was put together on short notice. This weekend’s rescheduled bout will take place at the normal flyweight limit.

Joanne comes into the matchup as a large underdog and 3-1 in her last four bouts. She made her Bellator debut in October 2019 and beat Bec Rawlings via 2nd round submission. Unfortunately, she lost in her next Bellator bout via 3rd round TKO to Kana Watanabe.

Seven of her nine pro wins have come via stoppage with four by way of TKO/KO. She’s 2-2 when going the distance.

Porto rode a four fight winning streak in Invicta FC right into Bellator earlier this year, but ended up losing to Liz Carmouche via decision in April. She’s hoping to turn things around and get that first promotional win.

15 of her 22 pro wins have come via stoppage with 11 by way of submission. She’s 7-6 when going the distance.

Although each fighter has plenty of stoppages on her resume, I like for this bout to go Over 2.5 rounds (-260) and the full 15 minutes (-225).

For Porto, nine of her last 11 pro bouts have gone the distance including two in a row. For Joanne, four of her last six bouts have gone to a decision.

Once with the judges, I like Porto for the win. I think she’s the better overall fighter between the two with more experience fighting at a higher level of competition.

Vanessa Porto vs. Ilara Joanne –Porto (-265)

Over 2.5 rounds (-260)

Fight goes the distance (-225)

Bellator 263 Main Card

The five bout main card for Bellator 263 will begin at 9pm ET live on Showtime.

Christopher Gonzalez vs. Goiti Yamauchi

  • Christopher Gonzalez (+130)
  • Goiti Yamauchi (-160)
  • Over (+110)/Under (-140) 2.5 rounds

Gonzalez will take a big step up in competition this weekend as he takes on the #5 ranked Goiti Yamauchi in what should ben an exciting lightweight matchup.

The Team Alpha Male fighter, Gonzalez is unbeaten in his career which includes going 5-0 in Bellator. He debuted with the promotion a little over two years ago and last fought in April 2021 where he beat Roger Huerta via 3rd round TKO. That was his best win to date.

Two of his four pro wins have come via stoppage with one apiece for submission and TKO/KO. He’s 4-0 when going the distance.

Yamauchi is one of the longest tenured fighters in Bellator. He’s been with Bellator for eight years and is 11-4 with the promotion.

Goiti was on a three fight winning streak before a controversial split decision loss to Dan Moret in April. I still am baffled as to how the judges gave Moret the victory.

21 of his 25 pro wins have come via stoppage with 20 by way of submission. He’s 4-5 when going the distance.

Yamauchi made the following comments about his upcoming matchup:

“I think it’s a pretty interesting matchup. Chris is a good fighter. You know, the best grappler will win the fight. He’s got the wrestling. I’ve got the grappling. I got the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. We’ll see who’s the strongest. Who’s the last man standing. I think it’s a pretty interesting matchup. Chris is a good fighter. You know, the best grappler will win the fight. He’s got the wrestling. I’ve got the grappling. I got the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. We’ll see who’s the strongest. Who’s the last man standing.”

I’m really surprised that the online MMA betting sites have the Under and the fight ending inside the distance as the favorites for this matchup.

Yamauchi has never been stopped in his career as all five of his pro losses have come via decision. Three of his last five bouts have gone the distance. Four of Gonzalez’s five Bellator fights have gone the distance.

Another reason why I like this bout to go the Over 2.5 rounds (+110) and the full 15 minutes is because both men are grapplers who could end up in lengthy stretches of the fight on the mat trying to gain top control or looking for the other to make a mistake.

With that in mind, I’m taking Yamauchi to win via unanimous decision. I think there’s value with the Over and the prop bet for this fight to go the distance.

Christopher Gonzalez vs. Goiti Yamauchi –Yamauchi (-160)

Over 2.5 rounds (+110)

Fight goes the distance (-105)

Islam Mamedov vs. Brent Primus

  • Islam Mamedov (-215)
  • Brent Primus (+175)
  • Over (-165)/Under (+135) 2.5 rounds

Islam Mamedov will make his highly anticipated Bellator debut this weekend. The Russian standout is widely considered to be one of the top lightweights in the world.

After starting off 1-1 in his career, Mamedov has gone 18-0-1 since then. That included a stint of 8-0-1 in PFL and WSOF.

Islam last fought in November 2020 for ADW UAE Warriors and won via 3rd round submission. 13 of his 19 pro wins have come via stoppage with nine by way of submission. He’s 6-0-1 when going the distance.

Primus enters this weekend’s contest on a two fight winning streak since suffering the only loss of his pro career which came against Michael Chandler via unanimous decision in December 2018.

However, Primus hasn’t fought since February 2020. He was supposed to take on Yamauchi last year, but covid shut down those plans. Instead, of getting another ranked opponent for Bellator 263, he gets a dangerous fighter making his debut.

This booking has really frustrated Primus who unleashed the following criticism:

“I’m mad. I was ranked No. 1 and they’ve been throwing me guys that I have never heard of and I have to Google their name and look them up. And it’s just frustrating and I don’t know why they won’t throw me a top 10 guy. They asked me to fight this [Alexander]  Shabily dude, and I had no idea who he was. I had never heard of him.

I had to Google him and now I’m fighting this other guy, Islam. And he’s good, I know he’s good. It’s just frustrating for me that I’m not fighting a top 10 guy. I’ve been calling out Patricky [Freire]. I’ve been wanting to fight Patricky or [Peter] Queally or anybody in the top 10, and here I am fighting some guy that hasn’t fought in Bellator, so it is what it is…If I don’t get a title shot or a top five guy from this fight, f*** man, I’m gonna be really upset, I’ll tell you that. I’m already pissed off about it.”

Primus does have a point. He’s gone 8-1 with the promotion and has defeated other reputable foes. His only loss came to Michael Chandler via decision.

Eight of his 10 pro wins have come via stoppage with six by way of submission. He’s 2-1 when going the distance.

Combined, these two men have 21 stoppages in 32 pro fights. However, I like this bout to go Over 2.5 rounds (-165) and the full 15 minutes (-150).

Primus has never been stopped in his career and has gone the distance in three of his last six fights. Islam has gone the distance in four of his last six bouts.

In their careers, Primus is 2-1 with the judges and Mamedov is 6-0-1.

When Khabib Nurmagomedov endorses a fighter, you know he’s going to be good and that’s exactly what he’s done with Islam Mamedov. Furthermore, Khabib could still appear at Bellator this weekend to support Islam and his cousin Usman.

With that in mind, I’m taking Islam to win this fight via decision and skyrocket up the rankings.

Islam Mamedov vs. Brent Primus –Mamedov (-215)

Over 2.5 rounds (-165)

Fight goes the distance (-150)

Usman Nurmagomedov vs. Manny Muro

  • Usman Nurmagomedov (-1000)
  • Manny Muro (+650)
  • Over (+110)/Under (-140) 2.5 rounds

Speaking of Khabib, Usman Nurmagomedov is his cousin. So, the same philosophy for picking Islam Mamedov will be applied to Usman as well. Furthermore, this bout has the largest disparity in betting odds.

Despite the disparity in odds, and being viewed by many as a massive underdog, Muro has fully embraced this challenge:

“I am fighting Khabib’s cousin who is 12 and 0. You know, he is [a] very skilled fighter, he is very well rounded and I embraced this opportunity because my goal when I got into the promotion was that I wanted to fight the highest level, I want to fight for the title.”

“Manny” Muro has won three straight fights including both of his Bellator bouts via decision. The three fight winning streak ended a three fight skid. Four of his 12 pro wins have come via stoppage. He’s 8-2 when going the distance.

Usman made his Bellator debut in April and beat Mike Hamel via unanimous decision. He’s making a quick turnaround and fighting someone of similar level of talent as Hamel.

The difference is I expect Nurmagomedov to pick up the stoppage this weekend instead of a decision victory. Nurmagomedov is the better overall fighter and has the edge wherever this fight goes.

10 of his 12 pro wins have come via stoppage with seven by way of TKO/KO. He’s 2-0 when going the distance.

I believe this bout will end within the distance (-150) and Under 2.5 rounds (-140). I see Usman picking up the TKO victory in Under 2.5 rounds (-140).

For Muro, all three of his latest defeats came via stoppage with two by way of TKO/KO. Additionally, those three losses all came in Under 1.5 rounds.

Nurmagomedov vs. Muro –Nurmagomedov (-1000)

Under 2.5 rounds (-140)

Fight ends inside the distance (-150)

Emmanuel Sanchez vs. Mads Burnell

  • Emmanuel Sanchez (-120)
  • Mads Burnell (-110)
  • Over (-175)/Under (+145) 2.5 rounds

This bout is very close in betting odds and should be an exciting featherweight matchup between the 2nd ranked Emmanuel Sanchez and the 8th ranked Mads Burnell.

Burnell went 1-2 in the UFC then left the promotion and went to Cage Warriors where he was 4-0. Mads made his Bellator debut in October 2020 and beat Darko Banovic via 1st round TKO. He last fought in April 2021 and defeated Saul Rogers via 2nd round submission.

10 of his 15 pro wins have come via stoppage with nine by way of submission. He’s 5-0 when going the distance.

Burnell made the following comments about his upcoming Bellator 263 fight:

“I’m feeling good. It’s just a fight like any other, there’s only me, if you know what I’m saying. Just go in there and do me, do what I do, and everything will be good. If I get the finish early, cool. If I get the finish late, cool. If I get the decision, cool. But just go in there and perform,” he said when asked whether his scrap with Sanchez might go the distance.”

Sanchez has been with Bellator for nearly seven years and has produced a 12-4 record with the promotion. He’s 7-2 in his last nine fights with both of those losses coming to Pitbull.

Emmanuel last fought in April and lost to Freire via 1st round submission in the semifinals of the featherweight grand prix. The loss snapped a three fight winning streak since his first defeat to Pitbull in November 2018 via decision.

Nine of his 20 pro wins have come via stoppage with eight by way of submission. He’s 11-4 when going the distance.

I like for this bout to go Over 2.5 rounds (-175) and the full 15 minutes (-170). Sanchez has gone the distance in 15 of his 25 pro bouts including three of his last five.

As for the winner, I still have confidence in Sanchez. His only two losses in the last five years have been to Freire. Burnell is a good, but I’m not sure he’s on the same level as Sanchez.

Take “El Matador” to win via decision.

Emmanuel Sanchez vs. Mads Burnell –Sanchez (-120)

Over 2.5 rounds (-175)

Fight goes the distance (-170)

Patricio Freire vs. A.J. McKee

  • Patricio Freire (-120)
  • J. McKee (+100)
  • Over (-115)/Under (-115) 3.5 rounds

This featherweight title fight is not only being billed as the biggest bout in Bellator’s history, but it’s also being tabbed as the fight to determine the best featherweight fighter in the world.

In fact, some even go as far as to say that the winner of this matchup will also be one of the top P4P fighters in the world. As you can see, this bout is truly a special event for Bellator.

McKee comes in as the slight underdog, but still undefeated and a huge threat to dethrone Freire. He’s Bellator’s top home grown talent having fought his entire pro career with the promotion.

AJ crushed the competition in the grand prix going 3-0 with three stoppages. He opened up the tournament with a 1st round KO of Georgi Karakhanyan.

He followed that up with a 3rd round submission against Derek Campos. In the semifinals, McKee defeated Darrion Caldwell via 1st round submission.

12 of his 17 pro wins have come via stoppage with six apiece for TKO/KO and submission. He’s 5-0 when going the distance.

On the flip side, Freire defeated Juan Arhculeta via decision, Pedro Carvalho via 1st round KO, and Emmanuel Sanchez via 1st round submission.

He’s on a seven fight win streak since losing to Benson Henderson in August 2016 via TKO due to a leg injury. Pitbull is 20-4 all-time in Bellator.

The current featherweight and lightweight champion made the following comments about McKee:

“Most of his opponents stepped into the cage with him already expecting to lose. And the biggest names he beat were already in decline, some quite different than from their career apex. I am at my apex, and there are many more things I plan to conquer in this sport. I’m walking into this fight with the intention of beating him up and walking away with a victory… A.J. McKee will pay for all the sh-t he and his father have been saying for years.”

23 of his 32 pro wins have come via stoppage with 12 by way of submission. He’s 9-3 when going the distance.

I like for this championship fight to go Over 3.5 rounds (-115) due to the caliber of fighters. I’m unsure if it can go the distance or not, but at +155 odds there’s some nice return on a wager if it does.

As for the winner, I’m really torn here. I believe both men are very capable of winning. However, I think it’s time for McKee to become one of the faces of Bellator by dethroning Pitbull.

The McKee era begins on Saturday night as A.J. wins the grand prix and becomes the top featherweight in the world.

Patricio Freire vs. A.J. McKee –McKee (+100)

Over 3.5 rounds (-115)

Fight goes the distance (+155)

Rick Rockwell

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. ...

View all posts by Rick Rockwell
Email the author at: [email protected]