Bellator 218 Sanchez vs Karakhanyan 2: Betting Preview, Odds, and Picks

by Rick Rockwell
on March 21, 2019

Minute Read

On Friday, March 22nd, Bellator will hold their Bellator 218 event live from the WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Oklahoma. The headliner for this card is a featherweight rematch between Emmanuel Sanchez and Georgi Karakhanyan. The co-main event is a heavyweight battle between Linton Vassell and Valentin Moldavsky.

Heading into this MMA event, Bellator had to change some fights around due to unexpected occurrences. Originally, Mike Shipman and Hracho Darpinyan where scheduled for the main card, but Shipman pulled out due to injury. Jeremey Hardy versus Rudy Schaffroth were set to replace Shipman vs Darpinyan, but Hardy was involved in a car accident and the fight was cancelled. Bellator decided to move Norbert Novenyi vs Will Lavine up to the main card to fill the void.

In total, Bellator 218 is scheduled to have 13 fights. The main card will feature 4 fights and begin at 9 PM ET on Paramount Network and DAZN. The prelims are set to begin at 6:45 PM ET and can be seen on both outlets as well.

Despite having 13 scheduled fights, MMA betting sites are only listing Bellator odds for the two main event fights as of this publication. Let’s take a look at these headliners, see if there’s any betting value and KO our picks.

Linton Vassell (18-7, 1 NC) vs Valentin Moldavsky (7-1)

  • Linton Vassell +110
  • Valentin Moldavsky -150

Surprisingly, the veteran fighter Linton Vassell comes into this heavyweight matchup as the underdog despite being a former title contender. Vassell provides solid betting value for those of you think he will win. Moldavsky is the current betting favorite. I expect these odds to change some as we get closer to the fight.

Vassell vs Moldavsky Preview

Fighter Linton Vassell Valentin Moldavsky
Age 35
Height 6’4” 6’1”
Record 18-7, 1 NC 7-1
Knockouts 6 1
Submissions 8 3
Decisions 4 3

Vassell is a former two time title challenger in the light heavyweight division where he fought his last 11 Bellator fights. After a lengthy run in a division that saw him come up short, Vassell has decided to move up to the heavyweight division. This will be his first fight as a heavyweight, which is partly why he’s the underdog in this fight.

Linton lost his last two fights where he was TKO’d by Ryan Bader in November 2017, and TKO’d by Phil Davis last May. Those two losses snapped a three fight win streak. For his career, Vassell has a 7-4 record in Bellator.

The biggest reason for Vassell’s move up to heavyweight was due to difficulties with making the weight cut down to light heavyweight. At 35 years old, Vassell expressed how hard it was to make weight:

“As I got older, [even though I] started training a bit better, it still came to that point where if I want to be a light heavyweight, I need to stay around 225. Being a big guy, it was a little bit hard. Rather than go through that in a continual cycle, with all the associated health issues, now it’s time. No more dieting. Just eat and train, at my natural weight.”

Now that Vassell has moved up, he’s looking forward to climbing the ladder in the heavyweight division. And, in Bellator, it won’t be that hard considering the lack of quality depth. The one carrot being dangled in front of Vassell is a potential rematch against heavyweight champ Ryan Bader:

“That’s exciting. To avenge that loss. At some point in my career I’m going to meet him again. It just worked out that way, that he won the tournament. And we’re in the same weight category again.”

Valentin Moldavsky is a veteran of Rizin, but has fought twice over the last 20 months in Bellator. He’s a student of Fedor Emelianenko. He’s proficient in Sambo and physically powerful. However, he hasn’t faced the same caliber of talent as Vassell. Additionally, he looks slower and less athletic than Linton.

Will Linton Be Successful in Heavyweight Debut?

Moldavsky might be a student of Fedor’s, but he’s not Emelianenko and nowhere close to the legend’s fighting skills. I think Vassell’s move up to heavyweight was a smart one as it allows him to carry more power and stay near his walking around weight of 245 pounds instead of the harsh cutting down to 205.

I also think Vassell’s move up in weight will give him an advantage in speed and athleticism over other fighters in the division, starting with Moldavsky. I know Vassell is the betting underdog, but I actually think he’s still the better fighter and he will come away with the UD in this fight.

Bellator Bet: Linton Vassell (+110) to win via Unanimous Decision

Georgi Karakhanyan (27-8-1) vs Emmanuel Sanchez (17-4)

  • Georgi Karakhanyan (+220)
  • Emmanuel Sanchez (-300)

The main event fight has a large betting disparity as Sanchez comes in the big favorite and Georgi is a large underdog. Sanchez is a former title contender, which is why he’s the favorite. Karakhanyan is returning to Bellator for a third time and it’s unclear if he’s still capable of hanging with good fighters. Sanchez doesn’t offer any betting value, but Georgi could be worth a look if you are desperate for a risky bet.

Karakhanyan vs Sanchez Preview

Fighter Emmanuel Sanchez Georgi Karakhanyan
Age 28 33
Height 5’9” 5’8”
Record 17-4 27-8-1
Knockouts 1 7
Submissions 7 14
Decisions 9 6

Karakhanyan returns for his third stint in Bellator as he last fought in January 2018, when he lost via UD to Henry Corrales. Georgi went 4-4 during his second stint. In his first run with Bellator, Karakhanyan went 2-2. With a 6-6 overall record in Bellator, it’s hard to imagine Karakhanyan deserving a headline fight. However, due to some issues with scheduling Sanchez versus another fighter, Karakhanyan got the lucky break.

With that said, these two combatants first fought in January 2017 and Sanchez won via Majority Decision. The close finish left a bad taste in Karakhanyan’s mouth. Now, he gets a chance to avenge his loss to Sanchez and reestablish himself in the flyweight division:

“Well, I actually took a fight against John ‘Macapa’ (Teixeira), so they called me and I took the fight (and) I signed a contract. Then about two days later they called me (and) they were like, ‘Hey yeah, you’re gonna fight Sanchez. The main event fell apart.’ And that was it, man. I was pretty excited and I couldn’t resist and I said, ‘Yeah just send me the fu**ing contract. Let’s do this.’”

Sanchez’s last fight came in November when he lost to Freire by UD. It was also a fight that took place overseas in Tel Aviv, Israel. But, even in defeat, Sanchez still gained some valuable feedback has his body held up with the long trip and change in climate, he fought well as he won a few rounds, and his opponent had to go to hospital after the fight while Sanchez didn’t.

Sanchez believes that if he can get the win this Friday, he will be back in the fold for another title shot. However, his top priority right now is to get his hand raised and not worry about the future:

“I’ve got to get out there and let my fists do the talking next Friday night and get my damn hand raised. That’s what it’s all about. And after that, then we can talk about who’s next.”

Who Wins the Rematch?

Georgi deserves credit for stepping in on short notice after Grinshaw wasn’t able to fight Sanchez at Bellator 218. Unfortunately, he might have bitten off more than he can chew. Sanchez is a good fighter and I think he’s better than Karakhanyan. However, I do believe the betting odds are a bit too high in favor of Sanchez.

With that said, I’m taking Emmanuel Sanchez to win via Unanimous Decision. In his 21 career fights, Sanchez has gone the distance on 13 occasions and has a record of 9-4 when seeing the scorecards. Georgi has also seen the scorecards on 13 occasions, but has a 7-6 record in those fights. Karakhanyan should put up a good fight, but he will fall short in the end of this one.

Bellator Bet: Emmanuel Sanchez (-300) wins via Unanimous Decision

Final Thoughts on Bellator 218

I find it a bit ridiculous that MMA betting sites only have two fights with listed betting odds. With so many online betting sites to choose from, it’s not hard for the sportsbooks to list odds on more fights. Anyhow, I actually like this card more than the UFC 217 card in the UK a few weeks ago. The two main fights have some intrigue and potential in-cage fireworks. For a free event, Bellator 218 is worth checking out on Friday night.

Full Bellator 218 Fight Card

The following is the full Bellator 281 fight card currently scheduled for Friday:

Bellator 218 Main Card

  • Emmanuel Sanchez (17-4) vs Georgi Karakhanyan (28-8-1)
  • Moldavsky (7-1) vs Linton Vassell (18-7)
  • Novenyi Jr. (3-0) vs William Lavine (1-1)
  • Anatoly Tokov (27-2) vs Gerald Harris (25-7-1)

Bellator 218 Prelims

  • Nation Gibrick (1-0) vs Nick Page (0-2)
  • Aaron Vickers (2-1) vs Isaiah Gutierrez (4-1)
  • Ky Bennett (1-1) vs Deborah Kouzmin (0-0)
  • Johnny Eblen (4-0) vs Chauncey Foxworth (5-7)
  • Malin Hermansson (2-0) vs Victoria Leonardo (3-1)
  • Christian Edwards (0-0) vs Roman Huerta (1-0)
  • Craig Fairley (1-1) vs Luis Erives (0-1)
  • John Macapa (21-4-2) vs Kevin Croom (18-11)
  • Vladimir Tokov (3-0) vs Ryan Walker (8-4)
Rick Rockwell

As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at to become the self-professed "King of the Blog" in his first year with the site.

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