This coming Thursday, April 4th in Atlantic City NJ, Bellator 95 hits the stage to close out the company’s 8th season, their first on SPIKE TV. In the usual Bellator fashion, season 8 has centered around 8 man, single elimination tournaments, and Bellator 95 will feature the finals of the Middleweight and Featherweight tournaments. In the Middleweight tournament, Doug Marshall battles Brett Cooper, and at Feathreweight Mike Richman takes on Russian import Magomedrasul Khasbulaev. Both winners will receive title shots and a check for $100,000 for their efforts.
In the Middleweights, Brett Cooper is 7-2 in Bellator competition, and he has looked focused and tough in this tournament. Marshall is a veteran who has also fought well. When the lines open up at the sportsbooks, this should be a near pick ‘em fight, with Cooper probably the slight favorite. this is the third fight for each in the last two and a half months, and both had long fights in the tournament along the way. This fight is going to come down to who is the better fighter and who wants it more.
The featherweight final between ‘Frodo’ Khalbulaev and Mike Richman should be a barnburner. Few people knew the Russian prior to the tournament, but he has finished both his fights and he has looked impressive doing it. ‘Frodo’ has won eight in a row overall, and he has done it with a breakneck aggression that makes for exciting fights. He KO’d one of the tournament favorites in Marlon Sandro in his last outing to advance to the finals.
This has to feel like familiar territory for Richman, who faced Russian Shahbulat Shamhalaev in a tournament final for season 7, but he was KO’d by the Russian in less than two minutes. Both men have also competed twice in the season 8 tourneys, and Richman had a 15 minute split decision in the last round, while ‘Frodo’ has come through relatively unscathed.
Based on his recent performances, Kahlbulaev will likely be favored slightly when the lines are published at the books. Richman is a gritty pitbull type, and he is going to have to slow down the aggression of the Russian, get off and do damage of his own.