Bellator's Rebney explains bizarre last-minute cancellation of lightweight tourney final

Bellator

For the second straight week, Bellator lost a scheduled tournament final on the day of the fight. Last week, an athletic commission would not allow Shahbulat Shamhalaev to compete after he fell ill on fight day. This time, it was a far more bizarre incident that caused a fight to fall apart.

Marcin Held was not allowed entry into the host venue, the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Indiana due to his age. While Indiana regulations only require a fighter to be 18 years old to earn a fighter's license, Held, who is 20, is not old enough to enter the state's casinos.

According to Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney, the promotion had worked with the athletic division of the state's gaming commission to ensure that he would be allowed to fight, and the issue seemed to be cleared. On Thursday night, for instance, he was allowed to weigh in for the fight at the same venue that held Friday night's event.

But on Friday, a few hours before the show was scheduled to start, Bellator was informed by the gaming commission that due to casino rules, Held would be prohibited from entering the venue.

"We'd made disclosures to the commission of his age 20," he said. "We were cognizant of the rule. We got an alert just before we were going to start that a higher authority in the gaming commission was disallowing what was previously allowed. It was disappointing and unexpected."

Rebney tried to shine a light of optimism on the situation, saying Held's fight against fellow finalist Dave Jansen -- like last week's canceled Shamhalaev vs. Rad Martinez featherweight finale -- would be scheduled for early 2013.

"We'll get to ply those wares and show it off on Spike with 10-15 times more audience, or more, knock on wood," he said.

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