CHICAGO, Ill. (October 6, 2011) - When Thiago Santos and Josh Burns step into the cage this Saturday at Bellator 53, one of the two will secure their spot as the heavyweight tournament alternate. While Mike Hayes secured his spot in the heavyweight semifinals with an impressive victory of Neil Grove, it may have come at a cost as Hayes received a 60-day medical suspension from the Louisiana State Commission and may be unable to compete when the tournament resumes at Bellator 56.
With Hayes' ability to continue in question, the fight between Santos and Burns, which airs LIVE and FREE on MTV2 and in commercial-free HD on EPIX at 9 p.m. ET from Buffalo Run Casino in Miami, Oklahoma this Saturday could determine the fight to face Blagoi Ivanov later this month in the Semifinals of Bellator's $100,000 Heavyweight Tournament.
The undercard for this event can be seen streaming LIVE and FREE around the world on Spike.com beginning at 7 p.m. ET. Tickets for Bellator 53 are on sale now and can be purchased at Stubwire.com and at the Buffalo Run Box Office.
Santos, who was originally slated for the Season 5 Heavyweight Tournament this past weekend, encountered visa problems in his native Brazil and was unable to compete in the tournament quarterfinals. The visa issues are now behind the former Brazilian State Jiu-Jitsu Champion and "The Big Monster" is ready for a battle at Bellator 53.
"I just want to fight," Santos said. "The issues with the visa are over. I'm here now, and just ready to try to get back into this tournament and get a shot at the title."
For Burns, the Detroit native and knockout artist is looking to get back to his winning ways after suffering a tough defeat at the hands of Bellator Heavyweight Semifinalist Eric Prindle at Bellator 40. Burns understands chances like these don't come around very often, and is ready to make the most out of this unique opportunity.
"I think I've got a lot to prove coming into this fight, and know this is a huge chance for me to show off what I'm really capable of," said Burns. "I'm the first to admit my fight with Prindle was sloppy, but that wasn't me. I'm ready for this fight, and I'm going to show everyone why I should have been in this tournament in the first place. Thiago has never fought anyone like me, and he really doesn't know what he's in for."
The Bellator Heavyweight Tournament Semifinals will take place at Bellator 56 from Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kansas, and will feature Eric Prindle taking on Ron Sparks, with Blagoi Ivanov facing Hayes if he can overcome the current 60-day suspension and continue on the 29th, or the winner of Santos-Burns.