Expert picks and best bets for UFC Fight Night and Bellator 288

On Friday night, Bellator hosts Bellator 288 at Wintrust Arena in Chicago. The main event features Corey Anderson challenging reigning light heavyweight champion Vadim Nemkov. Anderson is ranked No. 5 in ESPN’s light heavyweight divisional rankings, and Nemkov is ranked No. 8. This is a rematch from their bout in April — in the finals of the Bellator Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix — that ended with just seconds left due to an accidental clash of heads. While Anderson thought he had won the bout and $1 million, it was ultimately ruled a no contest. In the co-main event, Patricky ‘Pitbull’ Freire defends his lightweight title against the undefeated Usman Nurmagomedov.

The following night, UFC heavyweight Derrick Lewis looks to maintain his place in the rankings as he takes on Serghei Spivac at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas (4 p.m. on ESPN+, with prelims at 1 p.m. on ESPN+).

Lewis, ranked No. 8 in ESPN’s divisional rankings, is coming off back-to-back losses. Most recently, Lewis lost to Sergei Pavlovich by first-round knockout in July. Spivac, who is unranked in ESPN’s rankings, has won two fights in a row by knockout.

Marc Raimondi spoke to Fortis MMA coach Sayif Saud to get his perspective on the matchup in the UFC main event. He also spoke to Xtreme Couture MMA coach Eric Nicksick and Fight Ready striking coach Eddie Cha to get their thoughts on the title fights at Bellator 288. ESPN’s betting experts Ian Parker and Reed Kuhn add their insights and analysis for the main events of both fight cards and other intriguing bets for this weekend.

Editor’s note: Responses have been edited for brevity and clarity.

Bellator light heavyweight title: Vadim Nemkov vs. Corey Anderson, Friday

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