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Bellator 278 Predictions – Juliana Velasquez vs. Liz Carmouche: Fight Card, Odds, Start Time, Live Stream

Bellator Women’s Flyweight Champion Juliana Velasquez attempts to make her second defense against one of MMA’s most fight-tested veterans in Liz Carmouche at Bellator 278. Velasquez vs. Carmouche headlines the first of two consecutive nights of action Bellator in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Velasquez’ ceiling as world champion is still in question. His unanimous decision victory over Ilima-Lei Macfarlane in December 2020 could have served as a launching pad. After all, Bellator was positioning Macfarlane as a cornerstone of the brand. However, Velasquez (12-0) had a messy first title defense against Denise Kielholtz in July, earning a split decision victory over Bellator Kickboxing Women’s Flyweight Champion. A decisive win over an established and proven veteran like Carmouche is just what Velasquez needs to put some respect on her name.

“Carmouche is a very experienced fighter, but today I’m the world champion, not her,” Velasquez said on media day. “I’m looking at the poster and I’m super happy to be here. But I think I should be in the pound-for-pound women’s discussion. I have a fight coming up and my name will definitely be on the list after this match.

“Carmouche is definitely my most experienced opponent, but I don’t think she is my most difficult task. A fight is a fight so let’s see what happens. I think Lara from Colombia and Ilima-Lei Macfarlane have been my toughest opponents.”

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Carmouche charted his course to the world title and it didn’t cross Velasquez. Carmouche intended to fight Macfarlane, his tight-knit sparring partner, for Bellator supremacy until Velasquez was intercepted. Carmouche had an unexpected and disappointing parting ways with the UFC following a decision loss to reigning UFC women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko. Carmouche moved to Bellator with something to prove, going through three opponents to secure a championship bout. Carmouche has momentum on her side after obliterating Kana Watanabe in 35 seconds at Bellator 261. Half of the UFC women’s first bout – facing Ronda Rousey in the main event of UFC 157 – capturing the Bellator gold would be a major feather in the hat of veteran Invicta and Strikeforce.

“I think everyone talks about Velasquez as a black belt in judo. It’s the hardest thing but at the same time, if the floor is where she wants to go, I’d like to show her what the floor is like with me,” Carmouche said. “I don’t think that’s something she’s going to want to use. I think she’ll want to keep it upright.

“I think that’s partly a front that she says I’m not her toughest test. If I’m overlooked, great. I like to be underestimated. That makes it even sweeter for me… I haven’t seen any evolution in Velasquez from the Macfarlane fight to the Denise Kielholtz fight, she looked like the same fighter in every fight I’ve seen so far.

Friday officially kicks off the Bellator Bantamweight Grand Prix. Other fights to watch at Bellator 278 include TUF: Latin America 2 winner Enrique Barzola against Nikita Mikhailov in one Grand Prix qualifying match and Jornel Lugo against Danny Sabatello in another.

Here is the fight card for Bellator 278 with the latest odds from Caesars Sportsbook.

Bellator 278 card, odds

Juliana Velasquez (c) -170

Liz Carmouche +145

Women’s Flyweight Championship

Enrique Barzola-160

Nikita Mikhailov +135

Bantam-weight

Danny Sabatello-300

Jörnel Lugo +240

Bantam-weight

Grant Neal -160

Christian Edwards +135

Light heavyweight

Nate Andrews-340

Manny Muro +270

Variable weight (160 pounds)

Bellator 278 viewing information

Date: April 22 | Start time: 10 p.m. ET
Location: Neal S. Blaisdell Arena — Honolulu, Hawaii
Flow: Show time

Prediction

Juliana Velasquez vs. Liz Carmouche: Velasquez and Carmouche are far from the game’s most devastating finishers. Velasquez has gone to the scorecards in more than half of her professional fights. Carmouche recently beat Watanabe, but it was his first win by knockout or TKO in nearly a decade. Carmouche can do damage indoors and from the top position, assuming she can fight there. Velasquez is a relatively risk-averse fighter who is content to take things slow and go after his opponents from a distance. His high-level judo skills should allow him to fend off takedowns. The betting odds have Velasquez as the small favorite and that seems about right. Carmouche has upsides she can exploit at Bellator 278, but finding those openings will be difficult. Velazquez UD