Bellator 52 took place on Saturday in Lake Charles, Louisiana featuring the start of Bellator’s season five heavyweight tournament with each participant gunning for a shot at $100,000 and a shot at Bellator heavyweight champion Cole Konrad.
The opening round of action included two upsets by Eric Prindle and Mike Hayes and two dominant performances from Blagoi Ivanov and Ron Sparks.
Hayes upsets early favorite Grove
If the Bellator heavyweight tournament was seeded, South African Neil Grove would have likely been the top seed or close to it. That did not seem to phase Mike Hayes, as the fighter showed vastly improved striking en route to one of the better showings of his career and one of the worst of Grove’s. Grove seemed in slow motion for most of the night as he was unable to mount much offense with Hayes darting in and out. Grove’s best showing was the beginning of the third when he landed crushing shots before clinching and landing some strong knees. Hayes looked to be in trouble but managed to get the fight to the ground. Despite a reversal and few powershots, Hayes was in his comfort zone on the ground. Hayes eventually swept Grove and nearly finished the big man with an americana before time ran out. The biggest surprise of the night was bout being deemed a split decision.
Ivanov batters Jensen
Blagoi Ivanov was mad at TUF-veteran Zak Jensen and he took it out on the Minnesota fighter Saturday night. Jensen ripped Ivanov’s 2008 sambo world championship, saying he was not impressed and called Ivanov a “world sparring champion.” Ivanov picked the bigger American apart with accurate power strikes and when Jensen was able to clinch Ivanov used his array of throws to ground the American wrestler and easily mounted him a few times. Jensen manage to survive the mixture of ground and pound, submission attempts, passes and got it back to his feet. Unfortunately for Jensen, Ivanov turned him into a zombie as Jensen just chased face first into Ivanov’s strikes. Since the only way to kill a zombie is to take off its head, it was fitting that Ivanov choked Jensen completely unconscious with a guillotine choke.
Prindle’s size proves too much for Wenger
Despite being rocked early by TUF alum Abe Wenger, massive former-US Army boxer Eric Prindle kept his composure and won a tough unanimous decision victory. Prindle survived being wobbled in the first and displayed his boxing in the second. Crushing Wenger with boxing and pushing through fatigue to get Wenger to the ground. The ground was supposed to be where Wenger would have the biggest advantage on the relatively new Prindle, but Prindle crushed Wenger most of the time with his size and strength. Wenger’s best submission attempt came at the end of the second, where Wenger gained a heel hook that he was unable to finish. Prindle showed his evolving skills by attempting multiple submissions himself as the fight wore on.
Sparks fly in opening fight
In the least surprising result of the night, Ron Sparks destroyed opponent Mark Holata with a crushing combination that was punctuated by a left hook that floored Holata. Sparks followed up with a few strikes on the ground but Holata was out when the referee managed to stop the fight.
Main Card (MTV2, Epix )
Heavyweight tourney quarterfinals
- Mike Hayes defeats Neil Grove via split decision (29-28,28-29,29-28)
- Blagoi Ivanov defeats Zak Jensen via technical submission (standing guillotine) at 2:35 of Round 2
- Eric Prindle defeats Abe Wagner via unanimous decision (29-28,29-28,29-28)
- Ron Sparks defeats Mark Holata via KO (left hook) at 1:24 of Round 1
Preliminary Card (Spike.com)
- Genair da Silva defeats Bryan Goldsby via submission (North-South choke) at 3:51 of Round 1
- Josh Quayhagen defeated Cosmo Alexander via unanimous Decision (30-27,30-27,30-27)
- Justin Frazier defeats Liron Wilson via TKO at 1:50 of Round 1
- Matt Van Buren defeated Nick Nichols via TKO at 2:29 of Round 2