Current Bellator bantamweight champion Eduardo Dantas has had to withdraw from his Bellator 118 bout with Joe Warren due to suffering a serious head injury during training.
The injury will put Dantas on the shelf for an as yet undetermined amount of time, so tournament winner Rafael Silva will step in to fight Warren. The two will battle for the interim bantamweight championship, while Dantas focuses on recovery.
Bellator officials notified MMAWeekly.com of Dantas’ injury and the change in plans on Saturday.
Bellator 118 takes place on Friday, May 2, at the Revel Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, N.J.
“We take head injuries very seriously, and when we were notified that Eduardo was dealing with a head injury, we immediately flew him from Brazil to California to be examined by some of the leading specialists in the field,” said Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney.
“We are hopeful Eduardo will be able to resume his career later this year, but in the interim we have two incredible tournament winners ready to challenge for the Bellator World Title. Two of the best on the planet in Joe Warren and Rafael Silva will fight for the title and when Dantas is able to return, he will challenge the winner for the undisputed Bellator World Title.”
“This is setback for me,” Dantas said. “I’m not feeling right at the moment, but I am a fighter and have been a fighter since my childhood and I promise that I will be back stronger than ever. I want to thank Bjorn and Bellator for taking care of me during this process, for flying me across the world to get top specialists to see me. And, when I am ready to fight, I will show everyone once again why the belt has been wrapped around my waist.”
Warren (10-3), at 37 years of age, is nearing the end of his career, but having won the season nine bantamweight tournament, he’s looking to recapture the glory days when he was the promotion’s featherweight champion.
“It doesn’t matter which Brazilian they throw at me, I’m going to destroy who is ever across the cage from me,” Warren said. “It sucks Dantas got injured as I was focused on destroying him and taking his belt. But, now I’ll destroy Silva and Dantas can try to come and take my belt.”
Silva (21-3) won the 2013 Summer Series bantamweight tournament, but has yet to fight for the belt because he was sidelined with a knee injury that required surgery. Now that he is healthy, however, he will replace Dantas and face Warren for the interim strap.
“I’m healthy, and I’m ready to fight,” Silva proclaimed. “I know Warren always likes to talk, but this fight isn’t going to be about talking, it’s going to be about who is the better fighter, and everyone is going to see who that is on May 2. I’ve always wanted to face Dantas, and now Joe Warren is in my way. I’ll take care of that shortly.”