When Bellator kicks off its Season 5 Heavyweight Tournament, the eight-man field will bring a dominating 73-15-2 record into the cage that includes 41 combined knockouts. The eight heavyweights are set to square off at Bellator 52, as the promotion will determine who will earn a title shot against reigning undefeated Bellator heavyweight champion Cole Konrad.
The four quarterfinal fights will air live on MTV2 and in HD on EPIX on Oct. 1 from the L’Auberge Du Lac Casino Resort in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Tickets for the event can be purchased on Bellator.com and Ticketmaster.com.
“We’ve consistently seen dramatic, explosive performances from our heavyweights and that’s exactly what I expect in our Season 5 Heavyweight tournament,” said Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney. “Neil, Ron, Eric, Mark, Big Monster all look to knock you out from the moment the first bell rings.”
Bellator Season 3 Heavyweight Tournament finalist Neil Grove is back and will take on Bellator veteran Mike “300” Hayes in what should be a stand-up war. Grove is coming off a riveting win against former “The Ultimate Fighter” competitor Zak Jensen at Bellator 47 and is eager to get back into the Bellator cage.
“This tournament is stacked with strikers this year, which will provide a stronger line-up and even more exciting fights than last year,” said Grove. “I’m sure Cole is just as busy as the rest of us, preparing for battle against one of us, and I’m just excited to compete for another shot at the title, especially for a promotion such as Bellator.”
Born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thiago “Big Monster” Santos will enter his first Bellator heavyweight tournament against undefeated Bulgarian heavyweight and world-class Sambo competitor Blagoi Ivanov. While Ivanov has already collected a victory with Bellator, Santos has yet to compete inside the Bellator cage and already has title aspirations.
“I’m extremely excited to be fighting on national television in the United States for the first time on MTV2,” said Santos. “This is a huge opportunity for my young career, and I feel like this fight is going to be the first on my way to the Bellator heavyweight world championship.”
Another monster joins the tournament as Ron “The Monster” Sparks looks to keep his undefeated record intact when he takes on Oklahoma native Mark Holata. The 11-2 fighter rides an eight-fight win streak into the bout, and will be looking to punch his ticket into the semifinals with a victory.
Army veteran Eric Prindle looks to build off his Bellator 40 victory with a long tournament run. His first test will be against Bellator newcomer and former college football standout Abe Wagner. The impressive heavyweight took down former UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia earlier this year and is ready make a run in this season’s tournament.
Ron Sparks (7-0) vs. Mark Holata (11-2)
Neil Grove (11-3-1) vs. Mike “300” Hayes (15-4-1)
Thiago “Big Monster” Santos (8-1) vs. Blagoi Ivanov (4-0)
Eric Prindle (7-1) vs. Abe Wagner (10-4)