Bellator 95 Preview


Bellator ends its eighth season in Atlantic City with a jam packed card featuring a featherweight title fight. In that title fight, Pat Curran defends his title for the second time against season seven tournament winner Shahbulat Shamhalaev. Also on the card, two tournament finals will take place along with a feature fight at welterweight for Bellator 95.

The feature fight at welterweight will have season 6 lightweight tournament winner Rick Hawn square off against former UFC contender Karo Parisyan. Despite success at 155, Hawn moves back up to 170 for this bout where he has spent the majority of his career. His opponent Parisyan will be making his Bellator debut on Thursday and since leaving the UFC he has gone 3-3. I am not sure what Parisyan has left in the tank but this may be his last chance to make a run at major world title. A win over Hawn would easily put him in a tournament but like every fight he is in, his conditioning will determine how well he does.

The first of two tournament finals will be in the featherweight division as former Marine Mike Richman matches-up with Frodo Khasbulaev. Richman narrowly edged out “Popo” Bezerra for a decision victory in the semis after a spectacular KO finish in the quarter-finals. Khasbulaev has been dominant in his two tournament wins, finishing both his opponents. Richman has the better stand-up of two but I don’t think Khasbulaev will even try to mess with that and take this fight right to the ground where he is most comfortable.

In the other tournament final, Brett Cooper faces off with Doug Marshall in the middleweight division. After having a unanamous decision win in the quarters, Cooper had a very tough semi-final fight against Dan Cramer where he came from behind to win by KO. Marshall’s road to the finals started out with bang, winning by KO in the first round but his semi-final bout was bizarre to say the least. Despite getting taken down several times along with getting outstruck, Marshall’s aggressive nature was enough to win a split decision over Sultan Aliev. Cooper could stand with Marshall but I don’t think he will risk it and instead opt to out grapple and outwork the former WEC champion. Much like the featherweight final, this will be another striker vs grappler match-up.

Featherweight title holder Pat Curran puts his title on the line versus russian striker Shahbulat Shamhalaev. Even with the fight being taken on short notice by Shamhalaev, I don’t think that will make in a difference because he will be in the toughest fight of his career. Curran has been awesome since dropping down to 145 and is a top 5 featherweight. Shamhalaev has the abiltiy to KO a lot of guys but that maybe his only chance to win. Curran will be the bigger, stronger fighter in this match-up not to mention that he has gone five rounds on several occasions. Knocking out Curran will be easier said than done considering he has never been knocked out in his career.

After a mediocre season seven, season eight for Bellator has lived up to the hype and has been fantastic for its debut run on Spike TV. This finale to the season should be no different to previous fights and should deliver a fun night of mixed martial arts in New Jersey.

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