Sparks, Hayes, Prindle, Ivanov Advance At Bellator 52
LAKE CHARLES, La. (October 1, 2011) â€” It was an action-packed start to the Bellator Heavyweight Tournament as eight heavy hitters lined up inside the Lâ€™Auberge Casino Resort in Lake Charles for Bellator 52 to kickoff the quarterfinals of the Season 5 tournament. Ron â€œThe Monsterâ€ Sparks will take on Eric Prindle and Mike â€œ300â€ Hayes faces Blagoi Ivanov in the semifinals after big wins in Louisiana this weekend.
â€œIt was another great night in another full house at Lâ€™Auberge Casino Resort in Lake Charles,â€ Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney said. â€œOur heavyweights put on some explosive performances tonight, and I canâ€™t wait for the semifinals later this month at Bellator 56 from Memorial Hall in Kansas City.â€
In a stunning upset, Mike â€œ300â€ Hayes eliminated Neil Grove from the tournament with a split-decision victory in the nightâ€™s main event. Grove had a slight reach advantage and outweighed his opponent by more than 30 pounds, but Hayes executed an excellent game plan. He moved in and out of Groveâ€™s striking distance and racked up points on the judgesâ€™ scorecards with lots of leg kicks and straight punches to the body.
Ron Sparks remained undefeated and advanced to the semifinals with a knockout win over Mark Holata in the first fight of the evening. Holata didnâ€™t shy away from the fight, trading punches with Sparks right away, but â€œThe Monsterâ€ was able to stun him with a right hook early and on a later exchange dropped him to the canvas with a pair of left hooks to the jaw line. It was a big win for Sparks who is eager to show Bellator and the fans what heâ€™s capable of.
His corner instructed him before the final round to continue pushing the pace and to force a takedown when the time was right. He did just that and took Grove to the mat midway through Round 3, losing top position for a moment, but finishing strong on top with a submission attempt followed by some heavy punches.
â€œDonâ€™t mistake my kindness for weakness,â€ said Sparks after the victory. â€œThese guys are monsters but Iâ€™m â€˜The Monster.â€™ I think I can be one of the best heavyweights out there. You guys will see.â€
Zak Jensen stepped up to fight Blagoi Ivanov last minute as Thiago Santos was scratched from the fight card. He walked through all of Ivanovâ€™s best punches but couldnâ€™t avoid his takedowns and despite taking quite a beating, was the victim of a technical submission not a knockout. Jensen escaped full mount, a keylock and some ground-and-pound by Ivanov in the second round, but was caught in a five-finger guillotine choke as he attempted to fight the submission attempt. Jensen was briefly put to sleep by the fight-ending submission as Ivanov advanced to the semifinals.
Eric Prindle would also advance to the semifinals with a hard fought win over Abe Wagner. Both these men fought for three hard rounds and looked to be hitting just as hard in the final round as they had in the first. The fighters split the first two rounds and Prindle stole the third when he stuffed a takedown attempt by Wagner and kept him grounded for the remainder of the fight.
Bellator Fighting Championships visits the Buffalo Run Casino & Resort in Miami, Oklahoma on Saturday, October 8 for Bellator 53. The night will include the semifinal round of the Bellator Welterweight Tournament and matchups between Ben â€œKilla Bâ€ Saunders and Luis Santos, as well as Chris Lozano and Douglas Lima. All four welterweights are looking for a chance to advance to the finals of this seasonâ€™s 170-pound tournament.
Leave your feedback on this article by posting a comment directly below! You can also chat about the latest news in the MMANEWS.COM Forums and/or the MMANEWS.COM Facebook. If that wasn_t enough, MMANEWS.COM is now on Twitter as well @mmanewsdotcom.