After a three-month delay, Rad Martinez and Shahbulat Shamhalaev have a return date for their featherweight tournament final.
Bellator Fighting Championships officials announced on Friday that Martinez and Shamhalaev will square off at Bellator 90 on Feb. 21. The event takes place at the Maverik Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, and will also include the semifinals of the promotion’s upcoming light heavyweight tournament. The evening’s main draw will be broadcast live on Spike TV, while the preliminary card airs on Spike.com.
Martinez and Shahbulat were originally scheduled to meet at Bellator 83 on Dec. 7, but the 29-year-old Russian had to withdraw from the bout after experiencing symptoms consistent with food poisoning. The winner of the featherweight tournament receives $100,000 and a shot at the 145-pound belt.
“To have the opportunity to fight in Salt Lake City for the Bellator featherweight tournament championship is just a dream come true,” said Martinez, a native of West Jordan, Utah. “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.”
Martinez carries a five-fight winning streak into his showdown with Shamhalaev, including tournament triumphs over Nazareno Malegarie and Wagnney Fabiano. The 25-year-old victory MMA representative has tasted defeat just twice in 16 professional appearances to date.
Shamhalaev, 29, punched his ticket to the featherweight final with a pair of first-round knockouts, stopping Cody Bollinger in 4:49 at Bellator 76 and finishing Mike Richman in 1:45 at Bellator 79. Unbeaten in his last 10 outings, Shamhalaev has not lost since he was submitted by current UFC talent Khabib Nurmagomedov in November 2009.
“A fight between Rad and Shahbulat would be special anywhere you put it,” Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney said. “But to have the opportunity to make this fight happen in Salt Lake City with the ties Rad has to Utah is an incredible opportunity we couldn’t pass up. It’s been a long time coming, but Feb. 21 is shaping up to be a huge night of fights.”