Heavyweight Alternates Santos, Burns Clash at Bellator 53


Thiago Santos may have missed the start of Bellator’s second heavyweight tournament, but all hope is not lost.

Bellator announced Thursday that “Big Monster” will lock horns with Josh Burns in a heavyweight tournament alternate bout at Saturday’s Bellator 53 card. The fight was made as a result of semifinalist Mike Hayes receiving a 60-day medical suspension from the Louisiana State Boxing and Wrestling Commission following his first-round split decision win over Neil Grove at Bellator 52 last week.

As a result of the suspension, Hayes may not be cleared to compete when the tournament resumes on Oct. 29. If Hayes' injuries prevent him from fighting, either Santos or Burns will step in to face Blagoi Ivanov in the semis. Santos was originally slated to compete in the tournament's quarterfinals, but he was replaced at the last minute by Zak Jensen due to visa issues.

A veteran of the defunct Rio Heroes vale tudo promotion, Santos (Pictured) has only tasted defeat once as a professional, submitting to an Alexey Oleinik rear-naked choke in 2009. Following the loss, the heavyweight posted back-to-back victories over Geronimo dos Santos and Ubiratan Marinho Lima in Amazon Fight competition last year. “Big Monster” has yet to compete in 2011.

After beginning his career a perfect 5-0, Burns has dropped four of his last five bouts. Fighting out of Detroit, Burns made his Bellator debut in his most recent outing, fighting current tournament semifinalist Eric Prindle tooth-and-nail before the fight was stopped by the doctor at the conclusion of the second round. A five-year pro, Burns owns three of his six career wins via knockout.

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