The reigning Bellator Champion, former NCAA wrestler, Cole Konrad, retired from MMA in September. It is unclear if he means to stay retired or if he is seeking a way out of his Bellator contract. In either event, the result is the same for Bellator, the promotion is without a heavyweight champion and this tournament will crown the new one.
The name most familiar to most MMA fans is Brett Rogers (12-4), who took part in Strikeforce's Heavyweight Grand Prix. While originally from the Midwest, Rogers has since moved to Florida to join American Top Team and is looking to rebuild his career after being released from Strikeforce due to domestic abuse charges.
In the opening round of Bellator's tournament Rogers will take on Russian fighter Alexander Volkov (16-3), both fighters are strikers and this promises to be a real fire-fight. Also on the card is Mark Holata (12-3) taking on Vinicius Queiroz (5-2), Richard Hale (19-4) will face Mike Wessel (12-4), and Eric Prindle (7-2) will fight Thiago Santos (10-1).
Heavyweight Quarter Final: Mark Holata vs Vinicius Querioz
Fighters come out and Querioz throws a testing kick. Holata charges in and clinches against the cage. Holata has an underhook and is driving Querioz into the fence look for a trip. Querioz is able to slip away and lands a nice knee on the way out. Holata charges forward but eats punches and knees trying to clinch. Querioz is finding a home for his right hand, but he gets caught with a left hand from Holata and drops. Holata pounces into side control but Querioz has his wits about him enough to lock up half guard. Holata trying hard to finish, but Querioz is slowing things down and recovering, and gets it back into full guard. Querioz locks up a high guard and goes for a triangle, but Holata slips away. Holata goes back into guard and Querioz locks up an armbar, goes belly down and gets the tap. Holata appears to be in serious pain.
Official Result: Vinicius Querioz wins by Submission (Armbar) at 3:26 of Round 1
Heavyweight Quarter Final: Richard Hale vs Mike Wessel
The two hulking heavyweights approach each other as the bell rings and touch gloves. Wessel works behind a jab, trying to close in on the taller Hale. Wessel is hit with a flurry of strikes at range, gets stunned and is struck with even more punches. He dives for a desperation take down and Hale takes him back, flattens him out and rains down strikes. Ref warns Wessel to fight back and he does not, the fight is stopped.
Official Result: Richard Hale wins by TKO in 1:19 of Round 1
Heavyweight Quarter Final: Brett Rogers vs Alexander Volkov
Both fighters meet in the middle of the cage and Volkov is trying to stay outside the reach of Rogers, using his kicks to keep distance. Volkov fires off a few punches, Rogers tries a counter right and they break apart. Rogers is allowing Volkov os dictate range right now and the Russian is pounding him with punches, knocking his mouth piece out, ref calls time. Fighter back on and Volkov goes right back to work punching. Rogers again is plodding right in Volkov's range and is getting hit with kicks and punches. Rogers is just not throwing any kind of strikes, he manages to clinch for a moment but Volkov breaks away and goes back to work. Rogers finally lands a few punches in the clinch and then at range Rogers lands a counter overhand right, but gets hit with a straight right hand. Rogers appears to be slowing down already and Volkov is starting to leap in and out on him. Volkov appears to be bleeding out of his nose from the flurry Rogers threw earlier. Rogers is still staying away, not looking to clinch or take the Russian down. Rogers is now bleeding also, he clinches right before the bell. This was very close to a 10-8 but Rogers did just enough to prevent that from happening. 10-9 Volkov
Rogers looks very deflated in his corner between rounds, his corner is trying to get him going again. Volkov comes back out look to start striking again with straight punches. Rogers throws two very slow and weak jabs, Volkov is stalking Rogers against the cage and unloads a flurry as Rogers circles away. Rogers' corner told him to go for takedown and he has not made any attempt at it yet. Volkov is showing no fear of Rogers' striking right now, throwing strikes at what ever range he wants. Rogers throwing awkward jabs to the body and is against trapped against the cage as Volkov throws a head kick followed by punches. Rogers circles out and is again hanging out right in Volkov's range. The Russian again unloads punches and Rogers shoots for a tepid takedown which the Russian shrugs off. Volkov lands more punches with no answer by Rogers, but Volkov backs off with no attempt to finish. Big right hand lands for the Russian and Rogers is just moving calmly away. Volkov now waving Rogers forward, daring him to fight him. The Russian goes right after Rogers and the bell rings, Rogers did nothing this round. 10-8 Volkov
Rogers refuses to touch gloves at the start of the round, and Volkov responds by landing a straight right hand. Rogers is trying to throw punches, but looks very tired. Volkov is staying on the outside, but Rogers charges in and gets hit hard, but Volkov backs off again. More of the same, Rogers is standing there, Volkov is punching him but backing off before he has Rogers really hurt. Volkov is looking frustrated by how little Rogers is fight back, and tries to land a head kick. Rogers finally tries for a take down, but gets hit very hard by the Russian. Rogers is completely gassed out at this point and the crowd is booing him. Volkov is pressing forward now, landing kicks and punches. Volkov tries a spinning back kick, but misses, Rogers does nothing to counter. Bell rings and ends this beating. 10-8 Volkov
Unofficial Scorecard: Alexander Volkov defeats Brett Rogers (30-25)
Official Result: Alexander Volkov wins by Unanimous Decision (30-27)
Heavyweight Quarter Final: Eric Prindle vs Thiago Santos
Fighters touch gloves and settle into fighting stances. Prindle upright with his hands low and Santos throws a big overhand right, changes levels and takes Prindle down. Santos lands right in side control and Prindle struggling to escape. Prindle has his left arm pinned and Santos attempts a north-south choke but Prindle fends it off. Santos starts ground and pounding and positioning himself to attack Prindle's left arm. Santos looking for kimura on that left arm but Prindle bucks and slips his arm out. Prindle has zero hip movement is stuck on his back, stalling for a stand up. Santos going for an Americana, Prindle defends, but now Santos has a knee on the belly. Now Santos posutures up from side control and Prindle makes no attempt to escape. Santos goes for a spinning armbar, but Prindle is able to escape. Santos gets mount momentarily but Prindle is able to stand up. Santos jumps guard, and Prindle axe kicks Santos in the cup. Santos is in agony, sprawled out on the mat and groaning in pain.
The ref actually said "don't kick him in the groin about a minute before the kick occurred, so there is a chance Prindle is DQed. It looks like the fight is going to be called off as Santos is barley able to turn over and appears to still be in serious pain.
Official Result: Thiago Santos wins by Disqualification (Flagrant Groin Strike) at 4:51 of Round 1