Bellator tournament finalists Rad Martinez and Shahbulat Shamhalaev finally have a date to fight. Bellator announced the two featherweights will square off on February 21 at Salt Lake City’s Maverik Center, and the winner will earn the final installment of a $100,000 pay day as well as a shot at the divisional strap.
Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney knows the organization could have put the fight anywhere, but booking it in Martinez’s home state of Utah felt like the right thing to do.
“A fight between Rad and Shahbulat would be special anywhere you put it, nut 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 February 21st is shaping up to be a huge night of fights,” said Rebney in a press release revealing the upcoming tilt.
The match-up was originally supposed to take place at Bellator 83, but Shamhalaev was vomiting prior to showtime and the commission scratched the bout at the last minute. Bellator tried to squeeze the fight in on the last show of the season, but Martinez’s commitments to take care of his handicapped father prevented him from competing in the bout.
With all of that behind them, Martinez is looking forward to finally facing off 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,” explained Martinez. “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.”
As for the fight itself, Martinez made it clear fans can expect the same kind of aggression they always see from him when he fights, stating, “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. Fans know that any time I step into the cage you can expect a war, and nothing will change for this fight.”
The night is also scheduled to host the semifinal round of Bellator’s Season 8 light heavyweight field. The tournament begins January 17 live on Spike, featuring the likes of Mo Lawal, Renato Sobral and Seth Petruzelli.