Heavyweight Quarterfinalists on Point for Bellator 52
Bellator Fighting Championships moved one step closer to finding a No. 1 contender for Cole Konrad’s heavyweight title, as all eight Season 5 heavyweight tournament participants hit their contracted weights at Friday’s Bellator 52 weigh-ins.
Neil Grove tipped the scales at 265.5 pounds for his showdown with Mike Hayes (238), while Blagoi Ivanov checked in at 244 pounds prior to his quarterfinal bout against Zak Jensen (265). Ivanov was originally slated to lock horns with Thiago Santos, but Santos was apparently unable to make the trip from Brazil. As a result, Jensen was promoted into the tournament at the last minute and will no longer compete against Josh Burns on the undercard. Eric Prindle also weighed in within the heavyweight limit at 265.5 pounds prior to his meeting with Abe Wagner (247.5), as did Mark Holata (258) ahead of his scrap with Ron Sparks (263).
Going down Saturday from L’Auberge du Lac Casino in Lake Charles, La., Bellator 52 features the last quarterfinal draw to be decided in Season 5, as the bantamweight, welterweight and middleweight tournaments have already kicked off.
Grove fought his way to the final of Bellator’s first heavyweight tournament one year ago, only to be submitted by champion Konrad. However, the native South African recently rebounded from the loss to knock out Jensen in just 2:00 in July.
Meanwhile, Hayes has won seven of his last eight, with his lone loss in that span coming by split decision to Alexey Oleinik at Bellator 26 last year.
Only 24 years old, Ivanov is undefeated through his nascent professional career. The Bulgarian made headlines in 2008, when he defeated Fedor Emelianenko in the semifinals of the World Sambo Championships en route to a gold medal.
Jensen has lost four of his last five bouts. The American made his Bellator debut in July, falling by technical knockout to Grove at Bellator 47. A four-year veteran of the sport, Jensen has finished all 10 of his conquered foes by knockout or submission.
Known as “The American Soldier,” Prindle has not lost since 2008. The 35-year-old made his Bellator debut in his most recent outing, earning a technical knockout over Burns at Bellator 40 this past April.
An “Ultimate Fighter” Season 10 alum, Wagner earned the biggest win of his career in January, when he knocked out two-time UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia. Wagner rebounded from a loss to Aaron Rosa in his next bout by submitting Justin Grizzard in his most recent outing on July 30.
Holata, 29, has won eight straight fights dating back to 2008. The 29-year-old took an auspicious first step in his inaugural Bellator outing, knocking out Shawn Jordan in 1:13. Holata’s last in-cage effort came in April at Bellator 42, where he forced Tracy Willis to submit to strikes in just 49 seconds.
Sparks has yet to taste defeat as a pro, posting a perfect 2-0 record inside the Bellator cage in his two most recent appearances. “The Monster” last competed in May, submitting Vince Lucero with a keylock at Bellator 43.
Saturday, Oct. 1
L’Auberge du Lac Casino
Lake Charles, La.
Neil Grove (265.5) vs. Mike Hayes (238)
Blagoi Ivanov (244) vs. Zak Jensen (265)
Eric Prindle (265.5) vs. Abe Wagner (247.5)
Mark Holata (258) vs. Ron Sparks (263)
*Genair da Silva (150.8) vs. Bryan Goldsby (144.4)
* Cosmo Alexandre (157) vs. Josh Quayhagen (156)
Liron Wilson (227.4) vs. Justin Frazier (263)
* Matt Van Buren (204.2) vs. Nick Nichols (213.6)
*Alexandre, Da Silva and Nichols will have two hours to cut the additional weight.