At Bellator 90 this past week, Shahbulat Shamhalaev devastated any hopes Rad Martinez had of winning the season 7 tournament when he knocked him out in the second round. The newly crowned tournament champ will now step up to meet reigning Bellator Featherweight Champion Pat Curran.
Originally, Curran was on schedule to defend his title against Daniel Straus, the season 6 tournament winner. But Straus has an injury that’s forced him to withdraw from the bout. Shamhalaev was next line behind Straus and would have fought the winner of Curran vs. Straus, but in light of the injury his number has been called up to bat a little sooner than anticipated. Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney confirmed the news Wednesday afternoon via Twitter.
Shamhalaev (12-1-1, MMA) hasn’t lost in eleven straight fights and has finished every Bellator opponent he’s faced via KO en route to win the tournament. Thus far in his career, he’s only fallen short to Khabib Nurmagomedov who submitted him via first round armbar.
Curran will have his work cut out for him preparing on short notice for a completely different opponent. Straus was more of a wrestler whereas Shamhalaev is a stand up fighter with extreme power. Curran has 8 wins inside the Bellator cage and had his first successful title defense against Patricio “Pitbull” Friere at Bellator 85.
Bellator 95 will take place in Atlantic City, New Jersey’s Revel Casino on April 4th.