Bellator 95 Picks: Featherweight Title Pat Curran (-165) vs. Shahbulat Shamhalaev (+145)

Bellator-95 Bellator 95 Revel, Atlantic City, NJ Thursday, April 4, 2013 Featherweight Title Fight: Pat Curran (-165) vs. Shahbulat Shamhalaev (+145) Fight Breakdown: The Bellator featherweight title is up for grabs this Thursday night on Spike TV when champion Pat Curran puts his belt on the line against challenger Shahbulat Shamhalaev. The champion Curran is currently a -165 betting favorite (bet $165 to win $100) to win at Several Bookmakers, while the comeback on the underdog Shamhalaev is +145 (bet $100 to win $145). Curran (18-4) recently defended his Bellator featherweight title with a split decision victory over Patricio “Pitbull” Freire at Bellator 85. However, that was an extremely close fight and if there had been other judges observing the bout, Curran could very well not be holding the belt anymore. Regardless, he won the fight, which was his first title defence since defeating Joe Warren with a blistering TKO to take the title back at Bellator 60. The 25-year-old Curran is an excellent offensive striker who has KO wins over Warren, Marlon Sandro, Daniel Straus, and Mike Ricci in his young career. But while he does have underrated wrestling and BJJ, Curran has preferred to stand and bang in his last batch of fights and if he does that against an extremely hard hitter like Shamhalaev it could spell trouble for him because Curran tends to leave holes in his striking defence early on in his fights. Shamhalaev (12-1-1) won the Bellator Season 7 Lightweight Tournament with knockout victories over Rad Martinez, Mike Richman, and Cody Bollinger, winning as an underdog every time. However, the public won’t be fooled anymore because I think at this point everyone realizes how dangerous this guy is and the line remains close to even because of that, even though Curran has a bigger name, more hype, and more experience. But it might not matter against the 29-year-old Russian, who is one of the most powerful featherweights in MMA. Shamhalaev possesses thunder in his hands, and if he connects with anyone’s chin, they can go down. Against a guy like Curran who has mediocre striking defence early in his fights, Shamhalaev just has to pick his spot and look for that one punch. No doubt Curran has a good chin, but he’s never fought anyone like Shamhalaev, who has a very good chance of becoming Bellator’s latest champion from Russia. Fight Prediction: One thing I’ve noticed about Curran is that he is a slow starter and he is very hittable in the opening rounds of his fights, like in his last outing against “Pitbull.” Against a heavy hitter like Shamhalaev, Curran can’t just stand there and take punishment only to come back in the later rounds, so he’ll have to mix it up with his wrestling if he’s going to win this fight. Instead, I think Curran stands and trades with the Russian and it will be a mistake as Shamhalaev will land a crushing blow sometime in the second round and finish it up by swarming on Curran to get a stoppage victory and win the Bellator featherweight championship. Adam’s Pick: Shamhalaev via TKO (click for latest MMA odds) Adam’s Recommended Play: It’s a really close fight to call, so while I’m going to go ahead and pick Shamhalaev for the upset at +145, I don’t think it’s worth putting a big bet on him. Maybe something small, but unless he gets to a higher + number I think this is probably just a fight to pass on betting wise.

Written by Adam Martin.

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