By Benjamin Bieker
Taking place at the second event of Season 9 will be the featherweight tournament opening round. While they were talking about going down to a four fighter tournament this one will still hold eight. So, check out below the opening round matches.
Patricio Freire vs. Diego Nunes
Patricio Freire lost his chance to capture the featherweight title against Pat Curran by split decision, but he did not get an immediate rematch. He will now face off with a former UFC fighter in Diego Nunes. Freire will need to keep this fight standing, because Nunes is known for his great ground control. Even though Freire has a black belt in BJJ, Nunes has some great takedowns that could give any fighter trouble. It remains to be seen what will happen when these two face off.
Shahbulat Shamhalaev vs. Akop Stepanyan
Shamhalaev earned the right to face off with Pat Curran by winning the season seven featherweight tournament in February 21st, but had to take the title fight on short notice onApril 4th. He unfortunately lost in the first round by submission. Now, his chance back to a rematch will come against Stepanyan who has been unable to make it past the first round of a Bellator tournament, but rebounded with a kick to the body KO against Chris Saunders. This will be a great standup war between to great standup fighters. So, do not blink, because this one will end fast most likely.
Fabricio de Assis Costa da Silva vs. Desmond Green
Da Silva entered Bellator at an impressive 17-1 with 15 finishes, but he hit a roadblock in the form of season 8 winner Magomedrasul Khasbulaev who finished him in the first round. Now, he has a chance to redeem himself by taking on relatively unknown Desmond Green who has never entered the Bellator cage yet. Green will be looking to use a lot of pressure to win this fight since six of his eight wins come by decision. He should not go to the ground though, because 12 of Da Silva’s wins have come by submission.
Joe Taimanglo vs. Andrew Fisher
Taimanglo is a submission machine with 11 of his 18 wins coming by submission, and they are all kinds of submission from Barbo Choke to North-South Choke. Fisher is another ground fighter with seven of his twelve wins coming by submission. It is likely that this fight will hit the ground, and it may be who gets the submission on first who gets the win. That is all subjective until these two actually meet in the cage.
What are your thoughts?