Just two days away from Bellator 53, promotion officials have added a last-minute heavyweight bout to the main card. According to reports from MMA Junkie, Brazilian prospect Thiago Santos (8-1) is slated to face-off against Josh Burns (6-4) in a tourney-reserve bout for Bellator's season five heavyweight tournament.
The winner will receive the spot potentially vacated by Mike Hayes, who incurred a lengthy medical suspension as a result of a hand injury suffered in his headlining bout against Neil Grove at Bellator 52. Hayes' status is up in the air at the moment, however a decision is forthcoming. The tournament semifinals are scheduled for October 29th at Bellator 56.
With the news, Santos is granted an opportunity to reenter into the heavyweight festivities after being pulled from the tournament due to visa issues. "The issues with the visa are over," he explained. "I'm here now, and just ready to try to get back into this tournament and get a shot at the title."
Known as "Big Monster," the 6'3", 260-pound Santos has won two straight fights, including a three-minute smashing of Geronimo dos Santos at Amazon Fight 3. He now faces Burns, a Hammer House representative who was denied entry into the tournament after losing via TKO to Eric Prindle in April.
Due to the shifting of the match-ups, a middleweight contest between Giva Santata and Darryl Cobb has been relegated to the undercard, however Bellator officials maintain it will be the first televised bout if the MTV-2 main card ends early. Bellator 53 will be held on October 8th at the Buffalo Run Casino in Miami, Oklahoma.