Bellator was lined up to crown a new featherweight contender last month when a match-up between Rad Martinez-Shahbulat Shamhalaev fell apart shortly before showtime after the 11-1 Russian came down with food poisoning. Though disappointing at the time, the bout has now been re-booked and will come with the special circumstance of Martinez having a chance to compete in front of his hometown fans.
According to a press release, Martinez and Shamhalaev will meet in Salt Lake City, Utah on February 21 at Bellator 90.
“To have the opportunity to fight in Salt Lake City for the Bellator Featherweight Tournament Championship is just a dream come true,” said Martinez of the match-up in a prepared statement. “Utah has a great base of MMA fans, but we’ve never had a big MMA promotion come to Salt Lake City, so it’s a great honor to be headlining Utah’s first large scale MMA event.”
While the 14-2 Martinez is coming off five wins in a row and will have overwhelming crowd support, the 25-year old knows his opponent is an exceptionally tough draw with a slew of consecutive victories in his rear-view mirror as well.
“Shamhalaev is incredibly quick and versatile, and brings a lot of things to the table, so I know I have my work cut out for me,” offered Martinez on Shamhalaev, reassuring his supporters that he plans on turning in a tremendous effort in the tilt. “Fans know that any time I step into the cage you can expect a war, and nothing will change for this fight.”
Bellator 90 will also host the semifinal round of the company’s Season 8 light heavyweight tournament with potential appearances from Seth Petruzelli, Renato Sobral, and/or Mo Lawal depending on how each man fares in his respective quarterfinal clash.
PHOTO CREDIT – BELLATOR