Bellator 90: Martinez vs. Shamhalaev Preview

Thu, 21 Feb 2013
Salt Lake City, Utah

This week, Bellator serve up the postponed Season 7 Featherweight tournament final, with the winner earning a shot at Pat Curran’s title, as soon as possible. Good luck with that.

We’ve also got the semi finals at both Light Heavyweight and Welterweight with the real draw this week being former Strikeforce champion Muhammed Lawal.

First up, the main event between Rad Martinez (14-2) who is riding a 5-0 streak including a decision win over long time divisional standout Wagnney Fabiano against Shahbulat Shamhalaev (11-1-1) looks to be a cracker as both of these guys first preference is to stand and trade and 145ers are so often dull anyway…

I have to go with Shamhalaev here as while the bulk of his ten fight undefeated streak came in the Russian regional scene, his only loss is to someone who is now terrifying the UFC Lightweight division – Khabib Nurmagomedov. Similarly, his two first round knockout wins in the Bellator tournament are a mite more impressive than Martinez’ two decisions so, I’ve gotta go with the Russian here.

Hey, it’s been a good policy recently…

The likely co-main event sees Muhammed ‘King Mo’ Lawal (9-1, 1NC) looking to progress in the Light Heavyweight tournament at the expense of Emanuel Newton (19-7-1).

Lawal, as you probably know – is a top level wrestler with seriously heavy hands and remains the odds on favourite to win this tournament. Newton’s career record has the look of a journeyman about it, but it’s worth noting that he’s 7-1 since 2009 with the sole loss coming via split decision to current tournament champion and #1 contender Attila Vegh.

Newton boasts a potent submission game and has only been knocked out once, in his professional debut back in 2003 so both of Lawal’s traditional weapons could be nullified here. That says, I can’t see past a King Mo progression here…

The other semi final in the 205lb tourney sees the conquerors of big name opposition Renato Sobral and Seth Petruzelli facing off as Jacob Noe (11-1, 1NC) takes on Mikhail Zayats (20-6).

I’m going for a Zayats win here as he’s for more experience, a better standard of opposition and I don’t bet against Russians in Bellator.

We’ve also got the semi finals of the Welterweight tourney as four competitors seek to be the next to challenge the increasingly scary Ben Askren for the belt.

The first bout sees former challenger Douglas Lima (23-5) facing off with replacement Brian Baker (18-4) after original opponent Brett Weedman had to drop out. This promises to be a grand fight by two great big welterweights who always come to fight.

I can’t help thinking Lima is the more dangerous fighter but a grinding decision may favour Baker. I can’t see it coming to that though…

The last main card bout sees finishing machine Raul Amaya (11-1) looking to revenge his only career loss to UFC veteran Ben Saunders (15-5-2) who is in his third Bellator semi-final in a row.

Saunders has the advantage in experience and precedent, but Amaya is riding two stoppage victories and that kind of momentum counts for something.

Having said that, I have to go for Saunders, who’s experience is going to win out here, which outs him on a collision course with one of the two men who’ve beaten him outside the UFC – Bryan Baker and Douglas Lima.

I love the way these little rematches comes around. Win for narrative causality.

If you’re in the States you can watch Bellator on Spike TV, if you live anywhere else, they don’t seem to care. That’s a shame.

Rad Martinez vs. Shahbulat Shamhalaev – Season 7 featherweight-tournament final
• Muhammed Lawal vs. Emanuel Newton – light heavyweight tournament semifinal
• Jacob Noe vs. Mikhail Zayats – light heavyweight tournament semifinal
• Bryan Baker vs. Brent Weedman – welterweight tournament semifinal
• Raul Amaya vs. Ben Saunders – welterweight tournament semifinal

• Lionel Lanham vs. Joe Rodriguez
• Trevor Carlson vs. Terry Davinney
• Dave Allred vs. Sean Powers
• Jesse Juarez vs. Jordan Smith
• Chase Beebe vs. Travis Marx
• Shanon Slack vs. Josh Tyler


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