This coming Thursday, Bellator 90 heads to Salt Lake City, Utah with a card headlined by Rad Martinez taking on Shahbulat Shamhalaev. The fight is the closer of the season 7 featherweight tournament that had to wait until now to be completed, but the winner gets a shot at Featherweight Champion Pat Curran. The show also features semifinals in two tournaments. The welterweight tournament has Ben Saunders facing Raul Amaya and Bryan Baker taking on Douglas Lima. The Light Heavyweights highlights ‘King’ Mo Lawal taking on Emanuel Newton and Mikhail Zayats squaring off against Jacob Noe.
The Martinez vs Shamhalaev match is a carryover from last season, where the bout was postponed and then pushed to season 8. Shamhalaev had food poisoning, causing the first postponement. The match leaves Martinez as the sentimental favorite, as he could not make the second date because of family obligations involving caring for his sick father. Martinez is probably the favorite, as he represents a step up in competition for the Russian, who likes to take people out with his hands.
The light heavyweights feature ‘King’ Mo Lawal taking on Emanuel Newton in a match where Lawal is a heavy favorite. Newton is a hard working journeyman with a lot of fights under his belt, however he is not the athlete Lawal is, and Lawal is a talented fighter as well. Obviously, the organization would prefer Lawal advance to the finals.
In the other Light Heavyweight semi final, Jacob Noe faces off against Mikhail Zayats of Russia. In the opening round, Noe took out veteran Seth Petruzelli in his biggest win to date, and it was probably the biggest win in Zayats career as well when he bested Renato ‘Babalu’ Sobral. Look for Zayats to be favored in this bout.
The finals for the Light Heavyweight tournament look sealed up for Lawal vs Zayats.
It is the down side of relying on the tournament format, and that is injuries. A terrific welterweight semi final rematch between Brent Weedman and Douglas Lima went by the wayside when Weedman pulled out due to an injury. In steps Bryan Baker to take on Lima. Baker ousted Ben Saunders in the season 6 welterweight tournament before losing to Karl Amassou in the finals.
The second welterweight semi finals features Ben Saunders taking on Raul Amaya. Amaya was able to take out his first round opponent Jose Gomez in the first round. Saunders went the full distance with Kofi Adzitso. I woould not be surprised if Amaya surprised us here, but the finals here are likely to be Saunders vs Lima.