by MMAWeekly.com Staff Bellator Fighting Championships will crown its first heavyweight champion when powerful striker Neil Grove meets two-time NCAA Division I heavyweight wrestling champion Cole Konrad at Bellator 32 at the Kansas City Power & Light District on Oct. 14. The promotion announced the bout on Wednesday.
“This fight pits a world-class striker against a world-class wrestler. Both Neil and Cole have been completely dominant in the quarter and semi-final rounds, so whoever wins this fight has earned this title without any questions,” said Bellator Chairman and CEO Bjorn Rebney.
The six-foot-five-inch, 265-pound U.K. based Grove paved his way to the finals with two first-round stoppage victories. In quarterfinal action Grove made quick work of hard-hitting Eddie Sanchez, TKOing the UFC veteran in just 92 seconds. His dominance continued at Bellator 29 where he needed a mere 45 seconds to secure his spot in the Bellator Heavyweight Finals, dispatching of highly touted Russian Alexey Oleinik with a brutal TKO. Each of Grove’s 10 victories has come via TKO or KO. He will look to continue that streak on Oct. 14 against an undefeated Konrad.
“I’m just excited to get to the finals,” said Grove. “Everyone knows I’m a striker, but I haven’t really had to show off my wrestling skills. They’re certainly going to be on display against Cole, and I’m ready to show people what I can do.”
Konrad, a protégé and training partner of reigning UFC Heavyweight Champ Brock Lesnar, will be looking to keep his undefeated record intact on his way to becoming Bellator’s heavyweight champion. After recording back-to-back unanimous decision victories over Spanish submission artist Rogent Lloret and the previously undefeated Polish standout Damian Grabowski, Konrad plans on decisively finishing Grove.
“It’s going to end early,” said Konrad. “Neil is a big guy, and when he starts to wear down, I’m going to make my move and the end the fight by submission.”
He also has no qualms about trading with Grove.
“It’s going to be a great fight,” said Konrad. “Everyone knows I’ll be looking for the takedown, but my standup game has been steadily improving, and I feel like I can control the fight no matter the situation.”