The Bellator 53 main card is set after all fighters made weight for tomorrow’s card. Tomorrow night Bellator 53 kicks off live on MTV2 from the Tachi Palace Resort and Casino in Lemoore, California. The MTV2 televised card will air at 9pm with the preliminary card airing live on Spike.com starting at 7pm EST.
The event is headlined by the semifinals of the welterweight tournament, with former UFC fighter Ben Saunders taking on Brazilian prospect Luis Santos.
In the main event, Ben Saunders will once again have to fight without one of the deadliest weapons in his arsenal, his elbows. Saunders visibly had to restrain himself from throwing elbows several times during his opening round fight with Chris Cisneros and will likely have to do so again when he faces Luis Santos. Santos is a well-rounded fighter with an abundance of experience at the small show level. Santos striking is good but not great and against a strong Muay Thai fighter, he will likely look to get this fight to the ground. Saunders takedown defense will be on display in this bout but do not think that Saunders will not look to hit a few throws in the clinch if the chance presents itself. Saunders is the better fighter and has more expierience in the spotlight, so if he can avoid making silly mistakes he should be able to advance to the finals… where he can finally use his elbows again.
In the second welterweight semifinal, Chris Lozano will once again be the underdog to former MFC champion Douglas Lima. In his opening round bout, Lozano recovered from a shaky first round to put on a strong performance against Brent Weedman. Lima handled opponent Steve Carl in his respective opener at Bellator 49. Lozano utilizes a developing striking game in addition to strong wrestling to win fights and he will need it against Lima. Lima is a muay thai and BJJ fighter whose ground game causes frequent problems for those who take them down. Expect a close fight in this one where a decision is likely and a finish will only happen if a fighter makes a mistake.
In a featherweight bout, Ronnie Mann will face Kenny Foster. Mann is one of the better kept secrets in the featherweight division and a veteran of World Victory Road’s Sengoku series. Mann has very strong striking and despite a rough showing against Pat Curran, a decent ground game. Foster is a former D2 wrestler who has spent a lot of time rounding out his game since transitioning to MMA. Mann is favorite on paper, but Foster has the skillset to pull an upset.
A late addition to Saturday’s card is a heavyweight scrap with a possible heavyweight semifinals slot on the line. While Mike Hayes pulled off a huge upset of tournament favorite Neil Grove at Bellator 52, Bellator has reported that Hayes has received a 60-day medical suspension and may not be able to continue in the tournament. In the event that Hayes cannot be cleared, Bellator has arranged a fight between original tournament participant Thiago “Big Monster” Santos and Josh Burns. Santos was originally set to compete in the tournament and was thought to have been pulled from last week’s card due to injury. As it turns out, Santos had visa issues that have since been resolved. A win for either fighter will gain them an alternate’s slot in the tournament.
Finally, if there is one reason to watch the preliminary card, it is to watch one of the world’s best BJJ practitioners and trainers, middleweight Giva “The Arm Collector” Santana. Santana possesses one of the best armbar series in the world but the rest of BJJ game is strong as well. In his last fight, also at Tachi Palace, Santana scored a ridiculously fast technical submission victory over former WEC Doug Marshall. Expect opponent Daryl Cobb to be leery of even touching gloves with Santana if he is smart.
Full Weigh-in Results:
Main Card (MTV2)
- welterweight semifinal – Luis Santos (170.5) vs. Ben Saunders (170.5)
- welterweight semifinal – Chris Lozano (169.75) vs. Douglas Lima (170.5)
- Kenny Foster (146) vs. Ronnie Mann (145.75)
- heavyweight tournament alternate fight – Josh Burns (262.5) vs. Thiago Santos (263.5)
Preliminary Card (Spike.com)
- Darryl Cobb (185) vs. Giva Santana (185.5)
- A.J. Matthews (175) vs. Rudy Bears (174)
- Raphael Davis (206) vs. Myron Dennis (204.5)
- Emanuel Brooks (160.5) vs. Greg Scott (157)