After nearly four months in the making, the Bellator MMA Featherweight Tournament Finals will be concluded from Salt Lake City’s Maverik Center on Feb. 21 as Utah’s own Rad Martinez will battle Russian striker Shahbulat Shamhalaev for a guaranteed world title shot and a $100,000 Bellator tournament prize live on Spike TV.
The Bellator 90 event will broadcast live starting at 8 p.m. MST on Spike, as well as in Spanish language on mun2. The preliminary card will be streamed live and free on Spike.com starting at 6 p.m. MST.
For Martinez, the West Jordan native makes his Utah homecoming riding an impressive five-fight win streak, including Bellator tournament victories over top featherweights Nazareno Malegarie and Wagnney Fabiano.
Already tasked with preparing for the biggest fight of his career, Martinez knows what’s at stake with his hometown crowd behind him.
“To have the opportunity to fight in Salt Lake City for the Bellator Featherweight Tournament championship is just a dream come true,” Martinez said. “Utah has a great base of MMA fans, but we’ve never had a big MMA promotion come to Salt Lake City, so it’s a great honor to be headlining Utah’s first large scale MMA event.”
Shamhalaev re-enters the Bellator cage after collecting two devastating knockouts and has his sights set on a guaranteed title shot with a victory of Martinez. Armed with an arsenal of explosive jabs and strikes, Martinez is aware of the challenges that await him on Feb. 21.
“Shamhalaev is incredibly quick and versatile, and brings a lot of things to the table, so I know I have my work cut out for me,” Martinez said. “Fans know that any time I step into the cage you can expect a war, and nothing will change for this fight.”
The night is also scheduled to host Bellator’s Light Heavyweight Tournament semifinals. The tournament begins Jan. 17 live on Spike, and is headlined by Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal, Renato “Babalu” Sobral, and Seth “Silverback” Petruzelli.
“A fight between Rad and Shahbulat would be special anywhere you put it,” said Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney. “But to have the opportunity to make this fight happen in Salt Lake City with the ties Rad has to Utah is an incredible opportunity we couldn’t pass up. It’s been a long time coming, but Feb. 21 is shaping up to be a huge night of fights.”