They may not be Cain Velasquez or Junior dos Santos, but Bellator will turn to two of its heavyweights to close up their fifth season as Eric Prindle and Thiago Santos battle in the main event of Saturday's Bellator 59.
The winner of the promotion's second-ever heavyweight tournament gets a shot at Bellator Heavyweight Champion Cole Konrad in 2012.
Prindle (9-1) hasn't lost since 2008 and comes into Saturday on a seven-fight win streak. The 35-year-old debuted in Bellator in April with a second round TKO win over Josh Burns, literally punching his way into a tournament berth this fall. No big surprise here: six of his nine wins have come via T/KO.
A U.S. Army veteran, Prindle was a successful boxer while enlisted, winning several Army and Armed Forces titles amidst 100 amateur bouts.
Like Daniel Cormier in the Strikeforce Grand Prix, Santos (10-1) got added to the tourney after Blagoi Ivanov had to withdraw due to injury. The Brazilian debuted back in 2007 and mainly competed in his native country and Russia before making his Bellator debut this fall.
He comes into Saturday on a four-fight win streak and may have destiny on his side. He originally was set to face Ivanov in the tournament's opening round but due to visa issues, he had to be replaced. Again he was set to face Ivanov as he replaced the injured Mike Hayes, but Ivanov withdrew due to injury. With all of that, Santos is now one win away from a title shot.
How do these two stack up?
Prindle: 35 | 6'5" | Preferred form of victory: KO (67%)
Santos: 25 | 6'3" | Preferred form of victory: Submission (50%)
How did these two get here?
Prindle defeated Abe Wagner via unanimous decision and then knocked out Ron Sparks in 40 seconds in the semifinals, while Santos submitted common opponent Burns in the second round of an alternate bout and submitted Neil Grove in just 38 seconds in the semifinals.
Why should you care?
This is a fairly simple fight breakdown. If Santos gets this fight to the ground, Prindle is in trouble. If Prindle can keep this standing and short, Santos could go to sleep. It's safe to assume both men would like to work quickly as Santos hasn't gone the distance in two years. Don't expect this one to get out of the first round.