Rad Martinez was scheduled to headline his first Bellator fight card last month against Shahbulat Shamhalaev in the final of the season seven featherweight tournament, but the fight was cancelled moments for it was about to begin.
Shamhalaev became sick on the day of the fight and the athletic commission called the fight just moments before both fighters would begin to walk there way to the cage.
Martinez explained to TheMMAReport.com how he was ready to head to the cage, but was then informed the fight was not happening.
“They had just announced the winner of the previous fight and I was waiting at the door for them to call us to the staging area,” Martinez said. “They came in and they called my coach out, they told him and they both came in a told me.”
With the fight being canceled on that night, Bellator Chairman and CEO Bjorn Rebney originally announced the fight would take place the following week. However, Martinez could not fight the next week, so the fight was moved to 2013.
When everything happened, Martinez was frustrated that the tournament final could not happen during the seventh season. However, he is happy to have the extra time to prepare for his fight with Shamhalaev.
“At the time, I was feeling very frustrated and wanted to have a conclusion to the last three months and wanted to be down with it and see who would be crown the victor. It’s given me more time to prepare for my opponent. Three to four weeks is really not enough time but at the same time when you think about it, it gives him more time to prepare for me.”
Fast forward a month and now Martinez will headline the Bellator fight card coming to Maverik Center in West Valley Center, Utah on February 28th. Martinez admitted he was surprised that a major promotion was coming to Utah, but is excited to be in the main event of the card.
“Coming to my hometown and I am a big reason for that, it’s exciting and a little nerve racking because that throws a different aspect of the fight. It really pumped me up. I thought I didn’t have more motivation for the fight, this just gives me that more motivation for it.”
He only lives ten minutes away from the arena and has seen hockey games before at the venue. If he defeats Shamhalaev, he will win the season seven featherweight tournament, $100,000 and a guaranteed shot at the Bellator title. The stakes are already high and fighting in front of the home crowd has added a new aspect to the fight.
“It’s added a new aspect to this fight. The fight went from it would be really cool if I won, got the $100,000 and a shot at the title. To now, in my head, it’s a must win situation. I can’t lose here at home in front of my family, friends and my fiancé. It’s a must win now and it’s not because of the money and title shot, it’s because you are at home in front of everyone that knows you.”