The biggest show to hit New Mexico in some time is nearing very close as the heavily anticipated Bellator 91 event will be live inside the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho on Thursday February 28th. While Bellator MMA is a country wide promotion traveling from state to state, one common theme for the promotion is that it stacks their under cards with local talent. This show will be no different as Bellator MMA went and signed several very popular and very good New Mexico fighters.
For New Mexico fight fans the evening should be a very promising one as the competitors and match ups already look very exciting. However, SWFight.com thought this to be the perfect opportunity to introduce fight fans to the local New Mexico athletes competing on Bellator 91. In part one, we introduced fan favorite Holly Holm and prominent northern fighters Joshua Montoya and Angelo Sanchez and in part two we covered Adrian Cruz, Nick Gonzales and Mean 1 MMA’s Kevin Croom.
Felipe Chavez (5-3)
Chavez is a bit of a wild card for this event as fight fans have not seen him in action in over three years. It is hard to answer the questions about his conditioning that may come from ring rust, his motivation for getting back into the cage or if his game has evolved since he last competed since the sport of MMA is constantly evolving.
However, one thing remains a constant and that is the talent that Chavez possesses, he is a strong and durable fighter who has power in both hands and is capable of getting the win utilizing his grappling. Even though his inactivity has left many questions marks heading into this bout, Chavez has the fight changing power in his striking that makes it impossible to count him out.
Training out of the Mean 1 MMA gym alongside teammate Kevin Croom, Chavez will be well prepared by head coach Chris Lutrell in his preparations for this fight. He will draw the young Russell Wilson out of Lovato Total Fitness in his Bellator debut.
Lenny Lovato (8-1)
Since his first career loss to Gabe Ruediger in July of 2010, the “Godfather” has not return to competition so it is very difficult to say what Lovato has to offer the new school of MMA. We won’t have that answer quite yet as the 6-year veteran in Lovato will be taking on another veteran of the sport in Blas Avena, the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighter from the WEC.
Lovato is a very popular figure in Albuquerque and during his eight fight win streak to begin his career he was one of the most promising talents coming out of this area. His wrestling background is only the beginning of the talents we have seen come from Lovato, he mixes in effective grappling and crisp striking to his dangerous repertoire. He was interestingly matched up in 2011 with former Ultimate Fighter contestant Junie Browning and that very well may had been Lovato’s ticket to the next level. Instead, he returns to the cage at Bellator 91 against a formidable foe.
Josh Lanier (3-6)
Many combat sports fans will recognize the name and immediately link it to Jiu Jitsu. Josh Lanier is one of the more talented and gifted grapplers in our state and is the grappling coach for Lovato Total Fitness. Aside from teaching classes, Lanier also holds Jiu Jitsu seminars and his reputation as a solid top flight grappler is well known. While his MMA career has been somewhat underwhelming, he will have the opportunity to right that ship at Bellator 91.
Lanier is a very tall fighter, standing about 6”6’ and normally competing in a sub-205 pound division. His long limbs make his grappling very dangerous as long legs and long arms open up so many opportunities such as guillotines, triangles and sweeping an opponent with the space created by his length. His long limbs will also be welcomed in the stand up as Lanier’s opponent tends to knock opponents out and length will work to keep the distance.
Russell Wilson (1-1)
Of all the fighters competing for the Bellator 91 event, Wilson may be the most promising at such a young part of his career. Even though a loss a few months ago put an end to an unblemished run to star his career, the Lovato Total Fitness fighter has loads to look forward too and showcasing his explosive abilities on February 28th could be his coming out party to New Mexico fight fans.
Bringing his high school wrestling background into the sport, Wilson has a solid foundation to build upon. His explosiveness should transition well into his grappling which he learns under fellow Bellator competitor Josh Lanier and into his striking which he trains alongside Lenny Lovato Jr.
While he may be the most low profile of the bunch, Wilson should be a considered one to watch for as he takes on Mean 1 MMA’s Felipe Chavez.