As the last season of Bellator came to a close in November, the final image the public was left with was the bizarre close to the heavyweight tournament, a fight that ended in a no-contest due to a strange low blow that left the tourney without a winner.
The finals between Eric Prindle and Thiago Santos has now been reset, scheduled for the main event of Bellator 61 on Friday, March 16 in Bossier City, LA -- a night that will also feature the opening round of the sixth season 185-pound tournament.
The initial tangle on November 26th ended in the first round when a standing Santos (10-1-0-1) threw a kick that went flush into the nether region of Prindle (7-1-0-1). After he couldn't recover following a five minute rest period, Prindle was checked by the cageside physician and couldn't continue. The blow was ruled accidental, the fight was declared a no contest and Bellator head Bjorn Rebney said the two would square off sometime in the spring.
Middleweight Tournament Pairings Announced
On the same night that Prindle and Santos fight, the middleweight tournament kicks off with the four opening round matches:
Maiquel Falcao vs. Norman Paraisy
Released from the UFC in early 2011, Falcao (28-4-0-1) makes his Bellator debut after several fights in Brazil. He will battle Paraisy (10-1-1) who is riding a six-fight unbeaten streak. Falcao has 23 knockouts to his credit, while Paraisy's sole career loss was in Bellator several years ago. He lost to James Hammortree in a "fight-in" match on season 11 of The Ultimate Fighter.
Rogers (8-3) advanced to the semifinals of the last 185-pound tournament and was KO'd by eventual winner Alexander Shlemenko. He'll face Vianna (12-2-1), himself beaten by Shlemenko in the finals. Before the loss, he had a five-fight winning streak.
Vyacheslav Vasilevsky vs. Victor O'Donnell
One of the top talents on our World MMA Scouting Report, Vasilevsky (15-1) makes his promotional debut on a 14-fight win streak with a slew of finishes. Like Paraisy, O'Donnell (11-3) also lost a "fight-in" match on TUF's 11th season and is looking to rebound from a September first round knockout loss to Rogers.
With 13 wins by armbar, Santana (17-1) is looking to build on a six-fight win streak in his first Bellator tournament. He faces the undefeated Santos (12-0) who will make his promotional debut. All but two of his fights have gone the distance.