Bellator 79 went down last night in Canada, and the show featured a semi final match in the season 7 Heavyweight and Featherweight tournaments. Heading into the tournament, Bellator President Bjorn Rebney called Thiago Santos a potentially elite Heavyweight, and many had him installed as the odds on favorite in the tournament. His opponent Richard Hale on the other hand was coming up from Lightheavyweight, and was on very few radars, until last night.
Hale weathered a storm as Santos threw heavy punches in an attempt to end the fight early. About three minutes in, Hale turned the tide and launched a flurry of his own. Santos appears to have lost a tooth, and after he signaled the ref to no avail, ‘Big Monster’ seemed to want no part of the fight and he dropped and quit. Hale did his job, and is likely the favorite as he heads into the finals. Hale faces the winner of Vinicius Quieroz and Alexander Volkov.
In the featherweight tournament, Shabulat Shamhalaev earned his second first round knock out victory in the tournament to punch his ticket to the finals in the featherweights. He KO’d Mike Richman in under two minutes, running his record to 11-1. He faces the winner of Bellator 80′s Wagnney Fabiano vs. Rad Martinez matchup, Fabiano is a BJJ blackbelt, and he has a tough fight in Martinez, but Fabiano would likely be the favorite heading into a showdown with Shamhalaev.
In another noteworthy bout, welterweight prospect Douglas Lima got back on the winning track with a win over a game Jacob Ortiz. Ortiz kept forcing the action, and Lima was ready to oblige, landing strikes at will. Nearing the end of the fight, Ortiz was bloodied, and Lima landed a big knee to end the fight.
The pending matches for the Bellator Tournaments occur at Bellator 80, on November 9th, which we will review this week. It makes absolutely no sense to have split the semi finals up, giving Shamhalaev and Hale an extra week of rest and prep time over their opponents. Depending on how tough the fights are next week, this could make a difference in the fight. The tournament finals are expected in mid to late December.
And hopefully Bellator has learned Santos is a worthless investment. They have stuck by him through several groin shots (he has received and dished them out) and a fight cancellation because he could not make weight. This time he quit in a match without really taking that much punishment. An embarrassing performance.