A strange sixth season for Bellator Fighting Championships wraps Friday with a heavyweight title challenger created by a forfeit and a lightweight final that could see a potential promotional star be created with a win.
Heavyweight champion Cole Konrad defends against Eric Prindle in the night's expected main event, falling in the shadow of Saturday's UFC alternative of Junior dos Santos vs. Frank Mir. Konrad (8-0) has been on the shelf since defeating Paul Buentello last August in a non-title fight with Friday's bout marking the first defense of the title he won in October 2010.
Prindle got the shot through a bizarre set of circumstances where his season five closing bout with Thiago Santos was ruled a no-contest due to a nasty low blow from Santos. The fight was rescheduled for the early part of the sixth season, but was put off once due to an illness from Prindle. A week later, Santos couldn't make weight and Prindle (7-1-0-1) was declared the de facto winner.
Before the Santos no-contest, Prindle had won seven in a row with four knockouts. He's gone the distance twice, while Konrad has been to a decision five times in eight fights. This fight was originally scheduled for mid-April, but was (of course) delayed because of injury.
For a look at the lightweight final and what you missed on last week's episode, keep reading after the jump.
In the lightweight final, Olympic judo competitor Rick Hawn goes for his first Bellator tournament win against veteran Brent Weedman. Hawn (13-1) dropped to 155 after losing a decision to Jay Hieron in the season five welterweight tournament finals. Since the cut, he's 2-0 with knockouts of Ricardo Tirloni and Lloyd Woodard.
Weedman (20-7-1) also has found success in Bellator's lightweight division, dropping down after two straight losses to Hieron and Chris Lozano. After submitting J.J. Ambrose via second round Von Flue choke, he edged out Thiago Michel to earn his spot in the final.
The winner will be looking to regain some buzz for the division as it's expected that former champion Eddie Alvarez will soon depart for the UFC. Current champion Michael Chandler needs a marketable challenger and Hawn could be it with his considerable judo credentials. But the resilient Weedman has only been finished twice in his career, the last time back in August 2007 due to cuts.
Amoussou Advances But Fails To Impress
Karl Amoussou advanced to the welterweight tournament final last Friday with an entertaining split decision win over David Rickels. However, the announcement was heavily booed by fans in attendance and turned into a case where the winner didn't do much to inspire confidence for his next fight.
As has happened before, Amoussou (15-4-2) looked intense in the first round but ran out of gas as it went late. Rickels was able to control his advances on the ground and did significant damage to Amoussou's left eye. A backstage shot after the fight saw Amoussou immediately lay down exhausted while Rickels looked fresh and unmarked, which didn't help things.
He will face Bryan Baker (18-3), who decisioned pre-tourney favorite Ben Saunders several weeks ago. Since dropping to 170 pounds, Baker failed to impress in a split decision win over Carlos Alexandre Pereira, a contrast to his consecutive finishes over Joe Riggs and Jared Hess at 185 pounds.
Falcao Gets His Shot
After being unceremoniously dumped by the UFC, Maiquel Falcao (31-4) got a measure of revenge with his unanimous decision win over Andreas Spang last Friday to win the promotion's 185-pound tournament. Unable to finish but relatively dominant throughout, he now will face Alexander Shlemenko (45-7) for the title vacated when Hector Lombard left for the UFC. That fight will be made whenever Shlemenko has recovered from serious injuries suffered in a car accident.
Last Friday's event drew 209,000 viewers, which is the best the company has done the entire year and continues the unpredictable trend Bellator ratings have.