Bellator 91 is scheduled to go down on February 28th inside the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. The event will mark the largest promotion to come to New Mexico since the World Extreme Cagefighting made a pit stop in Albuquerque February 2008. Bellator MMA prepared healthily in anticipation of its event here in the state as more then a handful of local fighters earned contracts and slots on the upcoming card.
One of the most compelling stories to develop from the announcement of the event and fight card is the return of Ed “Wild” West (17-7). When the time of the fight comes, West will have been out of action for eleven months and coming in off a two fight losing streak to top talent Marcos Galvao and Eduardo Dantas. Training out of APEX MMA, the 29-year old West is desperate for a win to turn around the ship and he will have an opportunity to do it at Bellator 91 against a hometown fighter.
No more then 45-minutes from the event center that will host Bellator 91 lives a 23-year old fighter who in five years has amassed eighteen career MMA fights and two professional boxing bouts. Alchemy BJJ and Judgement MMA’s Joshua “The Destroya” Montoya (10-7) will take the next step in his career as he competes under the Bellator banner. He won’t have an easy debut as his opponent is anything but a walk in the park for the Santa Fe born and raised fighter.
Montoya is enjoying a two fight win streak that includes upsetting undefeated prospect Jason Sampson in his home town of Dallas, Texas. While that bout held the significance of being the most important fight of his career, every fight from here on out will take that label. Beating Ed West would be a career defining moment for the local and would propel him immediately into the discussion of future bantamweight tournament challenger.
The two fighters match up rather interestingly on paper; both Montoya and West have seen most of their wins coming by way of submission. Of West’s seventeen career wins, nine of them have come by way of submission and a handful specifically by arm bar. Montoya enjoys eight of his ten wins by way of submission; however how each fighter gets their submissions is just the beginning of their contrast.
Montoya is a very strong top grappler, he is powerful in hold position and when he locks something up he is extremely explosive in finishing. West is crafty working from his back even against accomplished wrestlers and world class grapplers, he hunts to isolate arms and when he does go for a submission he goes 100% which either gets the tap out or leaves him in a scramble, which West also excels at taking advantage of.
West’s striking game is kicking heavy and very unorthodox making him very unpredictable. While West usually counters with his hands and pushes forward with kicks, he has little problem engaging aggressive strikers in the pocket and make it into a dog fight. From explosive moments like that, West relies on his incredible ability to win scrambles. He is extremely tough and resilient and has been finished only once in his nine year career and it was very early on.
The hometown fighter is a bit of an oddity to most fight fans that have seen him fight as his stand up game has seemingly appeared overnight. Early in his career Montoya primarily was a grappler looking to close the distance, catch a takedown and work for submissions. More recently however, he has shown intelligent, composed striking in fights, he fluidly and methodically dismantled his most recent opponent Frank Morris which was highlighted by a leg kick to flying knee combination that crumpled Morris to the mat. Against top prospect Rafael “Barata” de Frietas, Montoya would use a crisp, strong right hand to change the complexion of the fight throughout their three round war many argued should have been awarded in favor of Montoya.
One fighter will be fighting slightly out of his element in the stand up game and that quite possibly may make the biggest difference in the fight. The fighter that comes most prepared to adapt to their opponent and bring in new evolving aspects of their skill set may be the fighter earning his hand being raised. Both fighters have calm, composed striking acumen and both are very effective wrestlers and Jiu Jitsu players which is what makes this fight one of the most intriguing bouts of the entire event.
Stay tuned for more fight breakdowns and event coverage. As always, support your local fighters and make sure to get to the Santa Ana Star Center on February 28th for Bellator 91.