clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Bellator 52 to Kick-Start Season Five Heavyweight Tournament

Ron Sparks, Mark Holata, Neil Grove, Mike Hayes, Thiago Santos, Blagoi Ivanov, Eric Prindle and Abe Wagner are the eight powerhouses set to compete in Bellator's season five heavyweight tournament to determine a No. 1 contender to face champion Cole Konrad.

The tournament starts with the quarterfinals at Bellator 52 on Oct. 1 at the L'Audberge du Lac Casino Resort in Lake Charles, La. An early look at the matchups after the jump.

Neil Grove (11-3-1) vs. Mike Hayes (15-4-1)

As the only returning heavyweight tournament entrant, Grove was the season three runner-up losing in the finals to Konrad. At 40, Grove isn't going to light the heavyweight world on fire, but he'll always be a fan favorite for his guns blazing style of fighting, as he displayed in a ridiculous fight against Zak Jensen at Bellator 47 last month. Impressively, all 11 of Grove's career wins were (T)KOs within the first two rounds. Hayes joins the field this year coming off three straight wins. Because of the lack of depth in the regional heavyweight circuit, Hayes hasn't been fighting solid competition and Grove should be one of his more competitive fights.

Thiago Santos (8-1) vs. Blagoi Ivanov (4-0)

As the only Brazilian in the tournament, the BJJ black belt Santos will be fighting on American soil for the first time. His opponent Ivanov is most known for beating Fedor Emelianenko en route to winning the World Sambo Championships in 2008. Capitalizing on the notoriety, Ivanov made the full-time jump to MMA and is slowly trying to establish himself through Bellator. If there's a breakthrough fighter coming out of this tournament, it'll likely be Santos, but the fight itself carries the most significance of the four tournament bouts, as both Santos and Ivanov are young with untapped potential.

Eric Prindle (7-1) vs. Abe Wagner (10-4)

Though he only has eight fights under his belt, Prindle started fighting MMA back in May 2004 before taking a three-year break after his first two fights. As one of the lesser recognizable names in the field, this Death Clutch member will be looking to catch his big break. Wagner is a former Ultimate Fighter contestant who resuscitated his career earlier this year when he stopped Tim Sylvia in 32 seconds.

Ron Sparks (7-0) vs. Mark Holata (11-2)

Sparks, a two-time Bellator winner, is a heavy-hitter with only one of his fights going the distance. The rest were closed out within halfway through the first round. Holata has done well for himself fighting locally in the Midwest as well as winning his two Bellator fights. Sparks-Holata, along with Grove-Hayes, are almost guarantees to end quickly.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Fighting Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Fighting