At first glance, it is somewhat shocking that the headlining fight for the quarterfinal round of Bellator’s season-seven featherweight tournament doesn’t involve Wagnney Fabiano. Sure, the main event at the show is understandably Eddie Alvarez’s, but the fact that the co-main event doesn’t feature the former IFL featherweight champion and WEC veteran is surprising.
One big thing that Bellator has done wonderfully over the years is create its own superstars. Names like Michael Chandler, Eduardo Dantas and Hector Lombard were relative unknowns prior to their championship reigns with the promotion. But let’s be honest, this tournament is Fabiano’s for the taking.
For those who may be unfamiliar with the Brazilian, the 14-3 fighter trains with the Nova Uniao camp in Brazil, along with the likes of Jose Aldo, Renan Barao, Diego Nunes and Dantas, to name a few. He holds a third-degree black belt in jiu-jitsu that has translated into seven victories by submission during MMA competition. As mentioned before, he was the former IFL featherweight champion, going 6-0 with the promotion and was the first and only fighter to hold the strap. He went on to fight with the WEC and went 4-2 with the promotion, losing only to Joseph Benavidez and Mackens Semerzier.
When you look at the rest of the field in this tournament, you find a lot of fighters with nice records, such as Mike Richmond, who is 12-1. You find fighters with high skills or rankings in any one style of combat, such as fellow jiu-jitsu black belt Nazareno Malegarie. But you don’t find fighters who have the level of quality experience that Fabiano has. Sure, these tournaments have proven that there will always be a diamond in the rough who comes alive and shocks the world, but if that diamond is indeed going to be his first-round opponent, Akop Stepanyan, who is a black belt in taekwondo, then I don’t see any reason why the Brazilian wouldn’t be able to handle him either.
Say what you want about “The Silencer,” including the fact that he has never really risen up and beaten a fighter who has been more successful than him, but the fact that Fabiano has the experience that he has, the great team in his corner, and the overall skill that he possesses is why the featherweight tournament is his to lose.
Photo: Wagney Fabiano (Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog)