Featherweight Magomedrasul “Frodo” Khasbulaev won the Bellator Season 8 Featherweight Tournament by defeating Mike Richman by unanimous decision on April 3, 2013, but visa issues have since prevented the Russian from entering the U.S.
Bellator has worked in an effort to sort out the visa troubles, but have been unsuccessful. Khasbulaev’s title shot and fighting career have been put on hold.
“Not a good place,” answered Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney when asked where Khasbulaev’s visa issues stand. “When you’re dealing with a government, trying to uncover what is the catalyst behind a guy not being allowed to come into the U.S., they don’t typically email you and give you all the specifics, but we cannot get him into the United States.”
Khasbulaev has fought three times in the U.S., all under the Bellator banner and all in 2013. After being informed that the fighter would be unable to travel to the U.S., Bellator worked to get the 27-year-old into Canada, where’s he’s fought twice before.
“We thought long and hard about getting him into Canada,” said Rebney. “But now there’s questions as to whether we can get him into Canada, so at this point we don’t know. He’s just on hold.”
By winning the Season 8 Tournament, Khasbulaev secured a shot at the Bellator featherweight title. Since his visa troubles, Patricio “Pitbull” Freire won the Season 9 Featherweight Tournament, earning a shot at the belt. While Khasbelaev sits idle, champion Daniel Straus will face Pat Curran for the third time at Bellator 112 in March and Freire will face the winner.
“Look, he won that tournament long before Pitbull or anybody else had won a tournament. The guy just literally can’t get into the U.S. at this point, or Canada. So we’re going to wait and see what happens, keep working with our immigration attorneys to try to get him in,” said Rebney. “When and if he gets the green light, hopefully he does, he’s a wickedly talented fighter, we’ll put him into the mix. But right now, Straus and Curran will go off on March 14, and Pitbull will face the winner.”