Bellator 53 Preview

October 6, 2011

Business in Bellator picks up this Saturday as Season 5 continues. The welterweight semi-finals are set for Oct. 8 at Bellator 53 in Miami, Oklahoma, live on MTV2 and in HD on Epix at 9/8c. Headlining the card is a battle between Brazilian Luis Santos and feared Muay Thai striker Ben Saunders. Santos tops the remainder of the tournament field in experience. The veteran fighter notched his 50th career win in his last outing, a clear-cut decision in the quarterfinals against Dan Hornbuckle. Standing in his way is Saunders, a vicious striker with one of the most feared clinch games in MMA. In September Saunders scored a third round TKO over Chris Cisneros. The win moved his Bellator record to 2-0 and reminded fans why his moniker is “Killa B,” as the American Top Team standout unleashed a fury of knees that crumbled his opponent. It was the Florida native’s 11th career win and his 10th by stoppage.

Rising star Douglas Lima and the once-beaten Chris Lozano complete the semi-finals. Fittingly dubbed “The Phenom,” Lima turned pro at age 18 and has compiled a 19-4 record in his five-year professional career. In his Bellator debut last month the well-rounded Lima defeated Steve Carl. His opponent Lozano will be looking for the home run hit this Saturday. Hailing from Ohio, “The Cleveland Assassin” showcased his power in the quarterfinals, outlasting Brent Weedman in a grueling three-round striking affair for his ninth career win. The winners of the semi-finals will meet in the welterweight tournament final. The tournament winner earns a shot at champion Ben Askren, who is scheduled to defend his belt at Bellator 56 on Oct. 29 against Season 4 winner Jay Hieron.

Also on the main card is a featherweight tournament qualifier between Bellator veterans Ronnie Mann and Kenny Foster. Both are looking to rebound after falling short in the semi-finals of previous tournaments. Kicking off the MTV2 and Epix broadcast is a heavyweight tournament alternate fight between Thiago Santos and Josh Burns. The once-beaten Santos was expected to be a part of the heavyweight quarterfinals at Bellator 52. A visa issue unfortunately prevented “Big Monster” from leaving his native Brazil. With the problem resolved, Santos has his sights on Burns. The winner could find themselves in the heavyweight semi-finals if Mike Hayes is unable to recover from the injuries sustained in winning his quarterfinal fight last week.

Before the main card airs, brings you six preliminary fights live starting at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT. Darryl Cobb will have his hands – and arms – full with Giva Santana. Nicknamed “The Arm Collector,” Santana has claimed 12 of his 16 victories by armbar. Midwest favorite Rudy Bears returns to the Bellator cage for the first time since his first round knockout win at Bellator 32. He meets the once-beaten A.J. Matthews at a catchweight of 175 pounds. Also Raphael Davis, who holds a victory over TUF-finalist Vinny Magalhaes, battles undefeated local Myron Dennis. David Rickels also puts his perfect record on the line as he takes on local favorite Levi Avera.