Bellator 234: Kharitonov vs Vassell Betting Preview, MMA Odds and Free Predictions

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On Thursday, November 14th, Bellator will be live from the Menora Mivtachim Arena in Tel Aviv, Israel. However, this MMA event is set to be tape delayed and will not air until Friday, November 15th, on DAZN and Paramount TV beginning at 9 PM ET.

Bellator 234 features a heavyweight battle in the main event of the night as Sergei Kharitonov takes on Linton Vassell. The winner of this fight will take a huge step closer to a world title shot next year. The co-main event fight is a lightweight contest between Roger Huerta and Sidney Outlaw.

Another interesting storyline for this event is the father-son duo of Haim Gozali and Aviv Gozali not only fighting on the same card, but both set to fight in main card bouts in front of their fellow countrymen.

In total, Bellator 234 is scheduled to showcase 21 fights, which makes it one of the largest MMA events ever held in Israel. A handful of Israeli fighters, like the Gozalis, dot the lineup to give this show a local flavor and something for the Israeli fans to root for.

MMA betting sites have released odds for many of the main card fights. Let’s step inside the betting octagon to check out Bellator betting tips, odds, identify potential value, and KO our picks.

Bellator 234 Main Card

The Bellator 234 main card features five fights and is set to air via tape delay at 9 PM ET on DAZN and Paramount:

Austin Vanderford (8-0) vs Grachik Bozinyan (10-3)

  • Austin Vanderford (-650)
  • Grachik Bozinyan (+420)

Vanderford comes into this fight as one of the largest betting favorites not only for Bellator 234 but for both Bellator and the UFC events. Speaking of UFC, Vanderford won a fight on DWTNCS 16 months ago but didn’t get a contract.

So, the undefeated American eventually ended up in Bellator by the beginning of 2019 and has gone 2-0 under the MMA banner. Six of his eight pro wins have come via stoppage. Despite his MMA success, Vanderford is best known for being the husband of UFC fighter Paige Van Zandt.

Instead of anyone talking about his fight against Bozinyan, global media and MMA outlets are talking about how his wife rocked a bikini on the beach at the Dead Sea.

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Dead Sea ✈️

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Bozinyan is making his Bellator debut this week after successful stints with ACB and M-1 promotions. He’s won five of his last six fights but hasn’t fought in almost 2 ½ years. His last fight was in June 2017 and he lost via submission. Bozinyan had a handful of fights cancelled over the last two years.

All 10 of Bozinyan’s pro wins have come via stoppage with six of them by way of submission. However, he also has two submission losses.

Three of Vanderford’s last five wins have come via submission and I wouldn’t be surprised if he picked up another one this Thursday. He’s the better overall prospect and I don’t see Bozinyan being able to overcome a 29-month layoff.

Bellator Bet: Austin Vanderford (-650)

Haim Gozali (11-6) vs Artur Pronin (16-3)

  • Haim Gozali (NA)
  • Artur Pronin (NA)

Israeli fighter Haim Gozali returned to Bellator this past summer for his second stint with the promotion. He scored a 1st round submission victory in his return. Overall, Gozali has a 3-3 record with Bellator.

Perhaps, Gozali’s biggest claim to fame is that he’s one of the oldest MMA fighters to still compete in a major promotion. Haim is 46-years old and is fighting on the same main card as his son Aviv Gozali. Upon his return to Bellator in June, Gozali made the following comments about his age:

“I’ll continue. I don’t feel old. I don’t feel the body. I feel good. I want to fight until my body’s going to quit, that’s for sure. And I’m producing also the Israeli [Bellator] shows. In Israel it’s a big show, it’s like 9,000 people in every show. It’s crazy over there. It’s become like soccer, basketball, it’s become like the top sport in Israel. It’s like the only sport in Israel that brings 9,000 people to an arena.”

So, not only is Gozali defying father time, but he’s also assisting with local promotional duties for Bellator. Ten of his 11 pro wins have come via submission. Three of his six pro losses have come via decision.

Artur Pronin will make his Bellator debut this week and enters this contest on a seven-fight win streak. He’s spent most of his career in regional promotions in and around his native country of Russia. All 16 of his pro wins have come via stoppage with nine by way of submission.

This fight will most likely be settled on the mat. Both men like to grapple and go for submission wins with a combined 20 submission victories between them. However, it’s more imperative for Gozali to get the fight to the mat since Pronin has some pop in his hands with seven TKO/KO wins.

I’m a sucker for a good story and I like what we have here with Haim Gozali. He will have his fellow countrymen rooting for him and his son on the same card. What more can a man ask for? I’m taking Gozali to win via submission as Pronin has never gone the distance in his career.

Bellator Bet: Haim Gozali (NA)

Aviv Gozali (3-0) vs Zaka Fatullazade (14-8)

  • Aviv Gozali (NA)
  • Zaka Fatullazade (NA)

From the father to the son, Aviv Gozali made Bellator history when he became the youngest fighter to earn a win with the promotion one year ago. He defeated Anton Lazebnov via 1st round submission at the ripe old age of 18 years old.

Since then, Gozali has gone on to earn two more Bellator wins, including the fastest submission in promotional history when he defeated Eduard Muravitskiy just 11 seconds into the fight. Gozali’s goal was to break this record, but he also ended up breaking his opponent’s foot:

“I went into the ring and touched the gloves before the fight because I knew what I’m going to do, I knew that I’m not going to touch his glove at the start because I want to break the record. This heel hook … the pain is in the knee, but I think I broke his foot. I saw him in a wheelchair [after the fight].”

All three wins for Gozali have come via submission. The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree with this father-son duo.

Zaka Fatullazade is an excellent handpicked opponent for Gozali. The Ukrainian fighter is just a few years older than Gozali but hasn’t had as much success or buzz over his career as Aviv has. This will be Fatullazade’s first fight with Bellator.

Fatullazade last fought six weeks ago and lost via 1st round TKO in a regional promotion. He’s dropped four of his last seven fights. Nine of his 14 pro wins have come via stoppage. Six of his eight pro losses have come via stoppage.

I don’t see Gozali winning this fight in record time, but I do see him winning by submission in the first round. Fatullazade’s last four losses have all come via 1st round stoppages.

Bellator Bet: Aviv Gozali (NA)

Roger Huerta (24-11-1, 1 NC) vs Sidney Outlaw (13-3)

  • Roger Huerta (+470)
  • Sidney Outlaw (-810)

Sidney Outlaw is the biggest betting favorite for any MMA event this week. His -810 odds are massive despite this being his promotional debut. Outlaw is on a seven-fight win streak with his last bout coming in May. He won that fight via 1st round submission.

Seven of his 13 pro wins have come via submission. He’s won five of his last seven fights via submission, including three straight contests across different promotions.

Upon signing with Bellator, the promotion felt that Outlaw was a credible fighter worthy of a fight against a named opponent. So, they decided to give him a bout against Roger Huerta. However, Outlaw wasn’t well-schooled on Huerta at the time and was more excited about fighting for the promotion than anything else:

“When they told me you’re fighting for Bellator, I’m like, all right, cool. Then they told me, you’re fighting against Roger Huerta, I’m like — I’m not going to lie to you. I’m not a big fan of watching my opponent fight — I’m like, all right, Roger Huerta. All right, cool.”

Afterward, Outlaw’s manager and one of his coaches at American Top Team informed him about the big opportunity that he has against Huerta.

Speaking of Huerta, this is his second stint with Bellator. He last fought for the promotion in 2010 and departed after losing to Eddie Alvarez. Before his first Bellator run, Huerta was a solid prospect in the UFC having won his first six fights before losing two in a row.

Huerta finished at 6-2 with the UFC, but his Bellator record isn’t as appealing. He’s only 1-4 with the promotion and 0-2 since returning to Bellator in April 2018. However, Huerta has fought pretty much every named fighter in his weight class for the promotion.

Seventeen of his 24 pro wins have come via stoppage with 12 wins by way of TKO/KO. Seven of his 11 pro losses have come via stoppage with six by way of TKO/KO.

Since initially finding out that he was fighting Huerta, Outlaw has done plenty of studying on his opponent. He claims that Huerta isn’t a bum and is doing his best to hype up this fight, but it’s to no avail. Nobody believes that Huerta is a credible fighter anymore. Just look at the MMA betting odds.

Huerta is 3-8 in his last 11 fights and hasn’t won in Bellator since 2010. Huerta might not be a bum, but he certainly is a “shot” fighter. I don’t see any problems for Outlaw in Israel this week and I’m not surprised at how big of a betting favorite he is. I’m taking Outlaw to finish off Huerta in the 2nd round.

There’s no value with either fighter and Huerta isn’t even worth a small flier.

Bellator Bet: Sidney Outlaw (-810)

Sergei Kharitonov (30-7, 2 NC) vs Linton Vassell (19-8, 1 NC)

  • Sergei Kharitonov (-270)
  • Linton Vassell (+190)

In the main event of the night Sergei Kharitonov comes in as a sizable betting favorite over Linton Vassell.

For many of you, Kharitonov is the fighter best known for being kicked in the groin and left lying in the middle of the cage in tears. Every man watching that fight live, or seeing the subsequent memes on social media following the incident, can attest to how brutal that kick heard around the South Pole was.

Although the kick was an accident, the bout was stopped and ruled a No Contest. Fortunately for Kharitonov, he gained a measure of revenge in the rematch against Matt Mitrione six months later. It took a few months for the healing process. In their rematch, Kharitonov won via 2nd round TKO.

If you throw out the two No Contests, Sergei has won six fights in a row as he’s gone 11-1 (2 NC) in his last 14 bouts. Twenty-seven of his 29 pro wins have come via stoppage with 19 of those wins by way of KO/TKO.

Linton Vassell is on a three-fight losing streak, which is the longest of his career. Two of those losses came at the light heavyweight division, which he fought at for most of his career. Vassell went up to heavyweight earlier this year but came up short in his divisional debut after losing via unanimous decision to Moldavsky.

Despite the loss to Moldavsky, Vassell believes that he will still take over the heavyweight division and go on to take the Bellator heavyweight title currently held by Ryan Bader:

“I’m always determined to get the win in every single fight. I’m on a three-fight losing streak which has never happened to me. I feel like everyone has their journey and this is my journey. This is my path and this is where I get back to winning ways. A big win over this guy will set everything up and show everyone that I belong in this division. I’m taking that title! 1,000 percent.”

Speaking of Bader, Vassell had already lost to him two years ago. It’s also been 2 ½ years since Vassell last won a fight. He’s currently 7-5 in Bellator. Fourteen of his 18 pro wins have come via stoppage with eight of those victories by way of submission.

Although Kharitonov is the natural heavyweight, Vassell will have an eight-inch reach advantage. However, Vassell’s best chance at winning is to get Kharitonov to the mat. He’s not going to be able to stand and strike with Sergei who is the more powerful striker of the two.

Vassell is a solid fighter, but I have a hard time seeing him defeat Kharitonov. Sergei is on a roll and can be either one fight away or earn a heavyweight title shot by winning this week.

I’m taking Kharitonov to win this fight via stoppage, most likely a late-round TKO. He doesn’t offer value, but Vassell could be worthy of a small flier for the extreme risk-takers out there.

Bellator Bet: Sergei Kharitonov (-270)

Bellator 234 Prelim Quick Picks

The following is a quick look at the top prelim fights for Bellator 234:

Olga Rubin (6-1) vs Sinead Kavanagh (5-4)

  • Olga Rubin (-350)
  • Sinead Kavanagh (+250)

Despite not being on the main card, as of this publication, this women’s featherweight fight has been listed on MMA betting sites and has some buzz heading into it.

Rubin is a former featherweight title contender but lost in her first title fight to the dominating Julia Budd. Nevertheless, Rubin is still 6-1 overall and 3-1 with Bellator. She’s a top fighter in the division and can work her way back into the title picture with a few more wins.

Those wins start this week against Sinead Kavanagh. Rubin has wanted this fight and publicly stated she’s been chasing after Kavanagh for a while now. She believes that she will have the advantage no matter where the fight ends up.

Kavanagh has lost four of her last five fights, including her only bout this year. Five of her nine pro fights have gone the distance. She has a record of 2-3 in those contests.

I don’t particularly like anything about Kavanagh as a fighter, especially in this matchup. I believe Rubin dominates this fight and either scores a stoppage win or cruises to a unanimous decision victory.

Afterward, watch out for Rubin taking on Bellator’s latest addition to the women’s roster in Cat Zigano if she wins this fight against Kavanagh as expected. Zigano was released from the UFC in August after the two sides butted heads over the timing of her next fight.

Bellator Bet: Olga Rubin (-350)

Robson Gracie Jr. (2-0) vs Ameer Bashir (0-1)

  • Robson Gracie Jr. (NA)
  • Ameer Bashir (NA)

Robson Gracie Jr. comes from the famous Gracie family of Brazilian jiu-jitsu and MMA fame. They’re the royal family of mixed martial arts and Robson is the next in a long line of talented fighters to turn pro and have success.

Robson is the younger brother of Renzo Gracie and the 4th member of the family to fight for Bellator. Since his debut, another cousin has joined the Bellator ranks.

Gracie first turned pro 11 months ago and won via 2nd round submission. His next fight was five months ago when he fought on the undercard of the Neiman Gracie vs Rory MacDonald Bellator 222 event.

Like any other Gracie before, during and after Robson, the MMA promotion that a member of this family is fighting for will do everything possible to build them up and make them into a marketable star. The last name alone is enough to get diehard MMA fans interested in their fights.

For this contest, Bellator found a warm body for Gracie to grab hold of and submit in probably the first six or seven minutes of the fight. I would be surprised if it makes it past the first round. Take Gracie to win and don’t think twice.

Bellator Bet: Robson Gracie Jr. (NA)

Bellator 234 Final Thoughts

Other than the Gozali family, and Robson Gracie Jr., I don’t have a lot of interest in this fight card. The two main event fights are lackluster on paper. Roger Huerta is a shell of his former self and shouldn’t be in the co-main event. Kharitonov should also hand Vassell his 4th straight loss in the main event.

There are limited betting opportunities for Bellator 234 mainly due to most online betting sites not listing odds for the full slate of fights. Additionally, there’s no betting value on this card.

In my opinion, Bellator 234 appears like a lackluster show all the way around. Hopefully, the fights produce more competition and entertainment than what they appear as on the surface.

Bellator 234 Full Card

The following Bellator 234 lineup is according to MMAJunkie:

Bellator Main Card

  • Sergei Kharitonov (30-7) vs Linton Vassell (19-8)
  • Roger Huerta (24-11-1) vs Sidney Outlaw (13-3)
  • Aviv Gozali (3-0) vs Zaka Fatullazade (14-8)
  • Haim Gozali (11-6) vs Artur Pronin (16-3)
  • Austin Vanderford (8-0) vs Grachik Bozinyan (10-3)

Bellator 234 Prelims

  • Olga Rubin (6-1) vs Sinead Kavanagh (5-4)
  • Adam Keresh (2-0) vs Vladimir Fedin (10-5)
  • Robson Gracie Jr. (2-0) vs Ameer Bashir (0-1)
  • Eli Aronov (3-0) vs Sari Hleihil (0-3)
  • Kirill Medvedovsky (11-6) vs Akhmed Fararzha (6-1)
  • Nika Ben Tuashy (2-0) vs Rafael Aronov (0-1)
  • Tomer Maslis (0-0) vs David Malka (0-0)
  • Artem Kazartsev (0-0) vs Ron Becker (3-2)
  • Itzik Rubinov (1-0) vs Itay Litwin (0-1)
  • Noam Voldman (0-2) vs Nizim Rosales (0-0)
  • Raz Bring (4-1) vs Nazariy Danylyuk (2-1)
  • Gustavo Wurlitzer (22-23) vs Fadi Haiyadre (1-2)
  • Elias Mamadov (1-1) vs Itay Tratner (1-0)
  • Ilya Gladkiy (3-0) vs Simon Smotritsky (5-0)
  • Michael Dulger (3-1) vs Ofir Leibel (0-0)
  • Maxim Tkachuk (0-0) vs Ben Cohen (0-0)
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. ...

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