On Tuesday, Bellator MMA announced its long-awaited return with a brand-new light heavyweight tournament that will likely take most of 2021. The new Grand Prix features current 205-pound titleholder Vadim Nemkov (12-2), who will be staking his belt each time he fights, as has been the custom with the promotion’s last several tournaments. He will attempt to navigate a tournament field that includes the last two Bellator light heavyweight champs in Phil Davis and Ryan Bader — who still holds the heavyweight title — as well as former Ultimate Fighting Championship 205-pound champion Lyoto Machida and two former UFC title challengers in Anthony Johnson and Yoel Romero.
Initial odds on some key upcoming Bellator MMA bouts, and the outcome of the newly announced light heavyweight Grand Prix, have been released by BetOnline. Unsurprisingly, Nemkov, who is undefeated in Bellator, riding a seven-fight winning streak and is the youngest fighter in the field, has the best shot to retain his title, according to the oddsmakers. For his opening-round matchup at Bellator 257 on April 16, Nemkov opened as a -280 favorite over Davis (+220).
Two-time UFC middleweight title challenger Romero is a distant runner-up to win the Grand Prix final as he opens as +400, followed by Bader at +550 and Johnson at +700. Longtime UFC contender Corey Anderson and former Absolute Championship Akhmat titleholder Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov both come in at +1000, followed by Davis at +1600 and Machida at +3000.
Odds To Win The Bellator Light Heavyweight Grand Prix:Vadim Nemkov +190
Yoel Romero +400
Ryan Bader +550
Anthony Johnson +700
Corey Anderson +1000
Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov +1000
Phil Davis +1400
Lyoto Machida +3000
Opening Round Matchup Odds:Bellator 256 (April 9)
Ryan Bader (-450) vs. Lyoto Machida (+350)
Corey Anderson (-140) vs. Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov (+110)
Bellator 257 (April 16)
Vadim Nemkov (-280) vs. Phil Davis (+220)
Yoel Romero (-130) vs. Anthony Johnson EVEN (+100)