Alexander Shabliy says Bellator not honoring $1 million grand prix prize vs. Usman Nurmagomedov

Alexander Shabliy is feeling short-changed heading into his Bellator Champions Series: Paris headliner vs. lightweight champion Usman Nurmagomedov.

Prior to PFL’s buyout of the Bellator brand, the matchup between Shabliy (24-3 MMA, 5-0 BMMA) and Nurmagomedov (17-0 MMA, 6-0 BMMA) was slated to serve as the $1 million final for the Bellator grand prix, which began with eight fights.

There was uncertainty about the bout’s status following the merger of the two companies, but a degree of resolution happened when it followed through with the original final matchup for May 17 at Accor Arena in Paris. There’s a huge difference now, however, because Shabliy claims he has been given no assurances that the winner of his clash with Nurmagomedov will still be rewarded with the seven-figure prize.

“There was a lot of uncertainty with the whole situation going on with the merger,” Shabliy told MMA Junkie through an interpreter. “We were sure that, since I was participating in the grand prix and going strong, that I deserved the title shot. I should have an opportunity to finish the business regardless of the merger, the way it was gonna go. I didn’t care which way it was gonna go – whether it was gonna be Usman or possibly Brent Primus or AJ McKee – but I definitely knew we should finish up the grand prix, go all the way where I can have a shot at the title and get the champion belt possibly. Now, about a month ago, we learned it’s gonna be Usman, and I’m excited. I’m looking forward to it because, as I said, I put hard work in, and I definitely want to finish this grand prix and possibly get the belt and the title.”

“As of now, I don’t like the situation, the way it’s going, because after the merger, I believe the PFL, since they are the main company, they should honor all the conditions. As of now, it looks like we’re just fighting for the belt and the title. I’m not confident in the prize money guarantee, and I think the PFL should follow through with the obligations that they acquired from the Bellator league. They try to compete with UFC and be a responsible league; I think they should follow through on that. Again, I put my work in. We worked hard in a lot of camps, and I think they should honor the money prize, as well.”

Shabliy, 30, understands that it’s a moment of change as PFL tries to figure out its plans for integrating Bellator and its large roster of athletes, but he believes that any previous promises should be fulfilled.

“Right now, the way it looks, I’m not quite happy,” Shabliy said. “If (PFL is) trying to look serious as the UFC, as a good competitor out in the market, they have to honor this. Right now, it looks like they’re letting us down on that. I’m sticking with Bellator for now, but I hope they honor their side of the deal.”

PFL officials did not immediately respond to MMA Junkie’s request for comment on Shabliy’s claim. For now, the fighter will keep focused on the task at hand, and that’s derailing the undefeated and highly-touted Nurmagomedov.

“I think I have something to offer him,” Shabliy said. “When I fight my fights, I don’t leave it to the judges. I try to finish every round of every fight dominating. In that sense, I think I’m a little more decisive, if you will. So I will go in there and fight until the end. Just analyze that, the way we finished our previous (common) opponents.”

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie