The third event during Bellator’s seventh season is in the books and what a way to kick off the featherweight tournament. All the action took place in Windsor, Canada.
Wagnney Fabiano submitting Akop Stepanyan in the first round. The former WEC star made his Bellator debut and reminded everyone how good he truly is. Originally tapped to fight during the season six featherweight tournament, an injury delayed his return to the cage. Nearly two years since his last fight, Fabiano was relentless with his takedown attempts. Once he got Stepanyan to the canvas, he locked in a fight ending armbar and told everyone he was the man to beat in the tournament.
Unlike Bellator’s heavyweight division where the champ forfeited his title and the tournament is going to crown a new champ, Bellator’s featherweight division is starting to stack up challenger after challenger. The mess started back in 2011 as then champ Joe Warren expressed an interest in fighting in the bantamweight tournament. He won the title in September of 2010 and then fought Marcos Galvao in April of 2011 in a non-title fight. Patricio Freire won the right to challenge Warren a month later, but because Warren was set to fight in the bantamweight tournament, the fight was put on hold. Bellator proceeded with another featherweight tournament that summer in which Pat Curran won the right to challenge the winner of the as yet to be determined Warren-Freire fight. Freire got injured and Curran was able to step in and become champ. Curran’s first defense was to be against Freire in August of 2012, but Curran suffered an injury. While the fight with Curran and Freire was being promoted, Daniel Straus was able to win the season six featherweight tournament and earn his right to challenge for the title. Now with Curran recovering from an injury, two number one contenders and a soon to be third, the featherweight division is too stacked at this point in time.
It’s no secret that Eddie Alvarez was at the end of his Bellator contract. Arguably the face of the promotion since the first season, Alvarez had been promoted as the best lightweight in the world. Even after suffering his loss to Michael Chandler, he was still promoted as a top three lightweight by Bellator. But now, one of the long time staples is about to hit the free market and it couldn’t have come with a better send off for Alvarez. Bellator paired him off against Patricky Freire for his last fight as Freire has heavy hands and if someone was going to give Alvarez a fight it was him. And while Freire did catch Alvarez at one point and had him stumbling around on weak legs, Alvarez was able to recover and knock Freire out with just six seconds left in the first round. While Bellator would have a hard time matching ANY offer made to Alvarez by the UFC, Alvarez just made his services even more valuable. Both Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta both tweeted at Alvarez that they were excited to talk to the lightweight. Bellator will be able to recover from the loss of a single fighter, but it still is unfortunate to see a long-time fan-favorite of an organization possibly go to the competition.