Through to the semifinals, Alexander Shabliy not worried about A.J. McKee or Patricky Freire
SAN JOSE, Calif. – Now that he’s through to the semifinals, Alexander Shabliy is going to have to play the waiting game.
Shabliy (23-3 MMA, 4-0 BMMA) took Tofiq Musayev (20-5 MMA, 1-1 BMMA) out of the lightweight grand prix this past Friday with a unanimous decision in the Bellator 292 co-main event at SAP Center in San Jose, Calif.
Shabliy, who trains at American Top Team in South Florida, said he was ready for anything Musayev brought to the table – which was skey, given Musayev was coming off a 27-second knockout in his Bellator debut.
“The fight pretty much went the way we expected,” Shabliy said through an interpreter following Bellator 292. “I feel great and ready to move on. We knew it was going to be a standup fight, but it was a little more tactical, a little bit more patient. We had a certain plan and I saw it unfolding today. We analyzed what things might (happen), and from the first round, I realized, ‘OK, that’s pretty much what we expected,’ and I acted accordingly.”
Now Shabliy has to wait to found out who his opponent in the semifinals will be. On his side of the bracket, former featherweight champion A.J. McKee takes on former lightweight champ Patricky Freire on May 6.
And after that, he’ll need to find out a date for their semifinal matchup – not likely until late summer at the earliest.
“I definitely know it’s going to be a busy year, so I’m not planning to rest too much,” Shabliy said. “We’re going to wait for the next announcement – who’s going to be the next opponent, whether it’s McKee, and then we’re going to start training right away because I don’t want to waste any time.
“I don’t really have a preference. I’m going to have one, and then give me the other one right after. I train with the American Top Team. We have top guys, so I’ve seen it all. I’ve seen really great guys. Either one is worthy.”
On the other side of the tournament bracket, lightweight titleholder Usman Nurmagomedov submitted Benson Henderson to defend his belt and advance to the semifinals in the Bellator 292 main event. Nurmagomedov awaits the winner of former champ Brent Primus vs. Mansour Barnaoui.
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for Bellator 292.