When Eric Prindle entered the season five Bellator heavyweight tournament, he wasn't a known commodity. At that point in his career, he was 5-1 with the majority of his wins coming via stoppage and he was ready for his chance to become a star in the sport of mixed martial arts. He had fought just once in Bellator, defeating Josh Burns in his debut fight via TKO (doctor's stoppage) prior to the tournament, but he did enough to earn his spot.
In the opening round of the tournament, he defeated Abe Wagner via unanimous decision. Four weeks later, he took to the cage to battle Ron Sparks and needed just 40 seconds to earn the knockout victory, advancing to the finals to fight Thiago Santos.
Santos wasn't originally in the tournament, but he earned his chance after defeating Burns in a reserve bout and took the place of Mike Hayes after he suffered an injury. He would defeat Neil Grove via submission at 38 seconds of the first round in his lone tournament fight, setting up the final with Prindle.
On Nov. 26, Bellator 59 was the home to the heavyweight finals, pitting Prindle against the tough Brazilian. Prindle found the mat early and as he was kicking at Santos' leg, Santos landed an inadvertent groin shot, ending the fight after Prindle was unable to continue. The last fight of season five was forced to season six.
The two men were set to fight on March 16, but "flu-like" symptoms forced the postponement of the finals. It was announced during the telecast of Bellator 60 that the two men would fight at Bellator 61 to determine who would go on to fight Cole Conrad for the Bellator heavyweight title.
During the weigh-ins for Bellator 61, Prindle came in at 265.2 pounds, but Santos weighed in at 277.8 pounds, 11.8 pounds heavier than allowed. The fight was cancelled and Prindle was awarded the tournament victory.
It has been a long, turbulent six months for Prindle. This span saw him enter the heavyweight grand prix, win his first two fights with ease, get kicked where no man ever wants to be kicked, get the flu and then when finally ready to fight, doesn't get the chance, but earns a title shot anyway because of his opponent missing weight.
Only in the sport of MMA can something like this happen.
For a look at the best fights for some of the most popular fighters in the UFC and 2011 division recaps, go here.
More from this contributor:
Hobson Lopes has been a fan of mixed martial arts since the days of Tank Abbott and can be followed on Twitter @HobsonLopes.
Note: This article was written by a Yahoo! contributor. Sign up here to start publishing your own sports content.
UNCASSVILLE, Conn. — Bellator up-and-comer A.J. McKee is grateful for the lessons from his dad about how to thrive in and out of the cage.Filed under: Bellator, News read news >>
The Bellator roster continues to bloom with the signing of former UFC title challenger Valerie Letourneau.Filed under: Bellator, News, UFC read news >>
Ilima Macfarlane is determined to be part of the inaugural Bellator women's flyweight championship fight. She doesn't know when the belt will be introduced or who her opponent would be, but said she' read news >>
Valerie Letourneau has become the latest UFC veteran to ink a deal with Bellator MMA. read news >>
A fourth championship fight will unfold when Bellator makes its debut in New York City on June 24 as Phil Davis will defend his light heavyweight championship against Ryan Bader.Filed under: Bellator read news >>
Following an injury to Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal, light heavyweight champion Phil Davis will step in and put his belt on the line at Bellator 180. read news >>
0-0. In certain contexts, it's a pretty auspicious pro MMA record. One of those contexts occurs when you see the 0-0 on a pay-per-view card. There aren't many modern fighters this side of CM Punk who read news >>
Bellator MMA today confirmed the main card for its second pay-per-view event while confirming additional bouts for its Spike-televised lead-in, Bellator 180. Filed under: Bellator, News read news >>
The biggest night in Bellator history continues to grow, as the fight promotion on Tuesday firmed up addition bouts for Bellator NYC and Bellator 180. read news >>
Bellator MMA is returning to Oklahoma with a main event pitting Patricky “Pitbull” Freire against Derek Campos. read news >>