PFL vs. Bellator: Champs odds and best bets

Best bets for the first PFL fight card of 2024

2023 PFL Championships
2023 PFL Championships / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

The PFL returns in 2024 with the inaugural edition of PFL vs. Bellator, giving us a lot of fights to choose from on Feb. 24.

Though preluding UFC Mexico City, the PFL vs. Bellator fight card offers three championship fights, the MMA return of Claressa Shields, and the professional debut of Biaggio Ali Walsh.

On the pay-per-view main card, six of the seven Bellator fighters will enter as the favorite with the lone underdog being 46-year-old Yoel Romero. Welterweight champion Jason Jackson has formed into the biggest favorite of the night against short-notice replacement and former two-time PFL champion Ray Cooper III.

Before getting into my favorite plays of the night, preview all of the picks from the PFL vs. Bellator fight card here.

If you want to bet on the fights, be sure to click the link below to sign up for an account at DraftKings Sportsbook. If you do, you'll receive $150 in bonus bets when you place your first $5 wager!

PFL vs. Bellator: Champs best bets

  • Ryan Bader vs. Renan Ferreira over 1.5 rounds (+110)
  • Johnny Eblen -3.5 points (-200)
  • Yoel Romero (+110)

Bader/Ferreira over 1.5 (+110)

Taking the over in a Renan Ferreira fight is never encouraging but there are a lot of signs that show this fight will go longer than many predict.

On paper, Ferreira is a 6'8" giant machine who is 12-3 with 11 finishes. However, three of the Brazilian's losses were later overturned to a no-contest, making his unofficial record 12-6, which is a lot less intimidating. Of those three fights, two also were decision losses that were wiped from his career.

Against wrestlers, Bader's forte, Ferreira has struggled immensely with poor performances against Klidson Abreu, Rizvan Kuniev, and Ante Delija. Ferreira was a -1000 favorite to beat Abreu before giving up takedowns at will and losing a dominant decision that officially resulted in one of the no-contests on his record. In Ferreira's last fight, he was once again dominated in the wrestling game by Denis Goltsov before landing a massive right hand in the second round to win $1 million.

Despite his age, Bader is simply the best and most athletic wrestler Ferreira will face to this point by a wide margin. The game plan is clear for Bader, who will look to establish himself early and eliminate the 11-inch reach advantage Ferreira possesses to slowly wear him down.

In his Bellator career, seven of his 11 fights have gone over 1.5 (64 percent) with four of his last six wins by decision (66 percent). Bader has not lost a fight at heavyweight in his career and has only been able to finish 46-year-old Fedor Emelianenko since 2019.

Johnny Eblen -3.5 (-200)

This line is extremely chalky but is the best value on the card. With all of the chaos in the UFC middleweight division, there is a legitimate argument that Eblen is the best middleweight in the world and the recent schedule of Kasanganay all favors the Bellator champion.

The PFL tournament format has been well-documented as a physical nightmare for fighters, but no fighter has gone through the ring tougher than Kasanganay did in 2023. Having won his spot in the tournament on the PFL Challenger Series, Kasanganay added an extra fight to his schedule than the rest of the slate and will now be returning just three months after winning the grand prize. Once making the walk, Kasanganay will be fighting for the sixth time in 12 months.

Since becoming the champion, Eblen has dominated two straight no. 1 contenders in Bellator after defeating Gegard Mousasi to gain the belt. In his decorated 14-0 career, Eblen has never failed to cover the point spread through 10 Bellator fights.

Yoel Romero (+110)

Yes, we are betting on 46-year-old Yoel Romero, even after the horrid output he displayed against Vadim Nemkov at Bellator 297.

At this point in his career, there are very few matchups that would make me favor Romero, but Thiago Santos is one of them. Even against someone six years younger than himself, I still believe Romero has more left in the tank than Santos, who is just 1-5 with one no-contest in his last seven fights.

Age has played a factor, but Santos has lost all mobility and explosion since blowing out both of his knees against Jon Jones in 2019. His power has waned as a result, leading to a fighter who once racked up an impressive highlight reel to be just stagnant and inactive.

Since debuting with Bellator in 2021, Romero has gone 2-2, struggling with fighters who can match his athleticism and strength. At one point in time, Santos fit that bill but has shown a puzzling and out-of-character wrestling-based game plan in his last two outings. Against opponents with less physical gifts, Romero excelled.

Romero, while lackluster against Nemkov, previously knocked out Melvin Manhoef and Alex Polizzi in back-to-back fights. Both Romero and Santos have faced a gauntlet in terms of quality of competition recently and at the pick 'em price that this fight opened I would have avoided it altogether but Romero should not be the underdog.

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.