CHICAGO — There were eight at the start but after Bellator 53 in Miami, Okla., just two men remain in the Bellator Season 5 Welterweight Tournament. Ben “Killa B” Saunders and Douglas Lima will advance to the welterweight finals after finishing each of their opponents in front of a sold out crowd inside the Buffalo Run Casino Resort.“Our Welterweights were simply electric tonight” said Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney. “Lima looked spectacular on his feet against a top, top tier striker in Chris Lozano and Ben Saunders on the ground was spectacular. Top to bottom this was an incredible show, and our Welterweight Finals should be something very special.”
Saunders scored an impressive victory with a dominating performance on the ground against veteran Luis Santos, a fighter with over 50 career wins. Santos succeeded in taking the fight to the mat but Saunders dictated the pace of the fight from his back with arm locks and a stiff underhook. In the third and final round, Saunders found himself in top position on the mat for the first time in the fight. He advanced to half guard and finished the fight by keylock to secure victory and his spot in the Welterweight Finals later this season.
“The Assassin” Chris Lozano was dealt just the second loss of his young career at the hands “The Phenom” Douglas Lima. More than half of Lozano’s wins inside the cage have come via knockout, and it was evident by Lozano’s willingness to stand and trade with Lima. It backfired however in the second round as Lima caught Lozano coming in with a perfectly timed right cross following a failed left hook by Lozano. Lima knocked “The Assassin” out cold to advance to the finals of the Bellator Welterweight Tournament.
Josh Burns and Thiago Santos were fighting for a reserve spot in Bellator’s Heavyweight Tournament as semifinalist Mike Hayes, who knocked off Neil Grove at Bellator 52, may be under a 60-day suspension and unable to compete due to a broken orbital from his fight against Grove. Santos was on task from the beginning in his fight with Burns as he systematically pressured him against the cage, took him down, softened him up with numerous strikes and finished the fight by rear naked choke after Burns gave up his back. With the victory, Santos may join fellow heavyweights Ron Sparks, Blagoi Ivanov and Eric Prindle in the semifinals of the Heavyweight Tournament.
In a Season 6 Featherweight Tournament Qualifier fight, Ronnie “Kid Ninja” Mann defeated Kenny Foster in impressive fashion. Foster managed to take “Kid Ninja” to the ground twice in the first round, but Mann proved just as dangerous from his back as he’s shown to be on his feet. He constantly worked for submissions until he caught his opponent in a triangle choke near the end of the opening round and forced Foster to tap. Mann dedicated the fight to the memory of his coach Shawn Thompkins who passed away on Aug. 14. Thompkins was a respected member of the MMA community and was also the coach of Bellator veteran Chris Horodecki.