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Outside the Octagon: Bellator Heavyweight Tournament Changes, FEG Reportedly Bankrupt, and More

Neil GroveThe injury bug has hit  this season’s Bellator heavyweight tournament as semi-finalists Mike Hayes and Blagoi Ivanov have been forced to withdraw from the tournament. The two have been replaced by Bellator favorite Neil Grove and original tournament entry Thiago Santos. Grove and Santos will face each other October 29 at Bellator 56, with former US Army boxer Eric Prindle and heavy hitter Ron Sparks meeting the same night.

Hayes’ exit from the tournament was not unexpected, as he was given a 60-day suspension for a cut following his Bellator 52 victory over Grove. Bellator held gave original entry Thiago Santos, who was scratched from Bellator 52 due to visa issues, a shot at being his replacement. Santos took advantage of the opportunity at Bellator 53 when he choked out Josh Burns.

Ivanov’s injury was unexpected but original tournament favorite Neil Grove was ready for a second shot at $100,000 and rematch with champion Cole Konrad. While Ivanov’s injury is being listed as “undisclosed,” the Bulgarian fighter has struggled with hand issues since breaking both hands in a fight with Kazuyuki “Ironhead” Fujita years ago.

FEG Bankrupt, K-1 Grand Prix Cancelled

MMAFighting’s Dan Herbertson is reporting that K-1 parent company and DREAM co-promoter FEG is bankrupt. While rumors of the company’s money problems are nothing new, there was a chance that company would survive with new investors. The company was never able to find those investors due to economical and cultural changes in the country. As a result, K-1 and DREAM will likely become two completely separate promotions.

The news was also announced by K-1 competitor “IT’S SHOWTIME,” who stated that K-1 will likely be purchased by a group of three companies, including Golden Glory’s Bas Boon, but that the deal is being held up for a multitude of reasons.While “IT’S SHOWTIME” is a competitor of K-1, the company will apparently still assist the floundering brand for the “good of the sport.”

While K-1 is more affected by the collapse of FEG, DREAM is expected to live on, albeit with more limited funds. DREAM executive producer Keiichi Sasahara says the promotion will still have its traditional New Year’s Eve card but that it will likely undergo a name change since K-1 will not be involved.

Other News from Outside the Octagon:

  • Former UFC middleweight prospect Maiquel Falcao has signed with Bellator, though his debut is unknown at this time. Falcao was released from the UFC after past legal issues prevented him from taking part in UFC 134. While the promotion is currently running a middleweight tournament this season, it stands to reason they may hold another tournament in the near future with recent fighters being released and other Bellator fighters being availible.
  • TUF 8 winner Efrain Escudero will fight Cesar Avila on the undercard of Bellator 55 this weekend. While this appears to be a one-fight deal, the winner of the bout will likely earn a longer contract with the promotion.
  • Featherweight Kazuyuki Miyata has announced he is leaving DREAM after the company failed to pay him “in full or at all” the last few years. The former Olympic wrestler has expressed interest in the UFC’s upcoming venture in Japan but at this time, he has not made a decision on his future. Miyata struggled early in his career but found success after dropping several weight classes and finding a home at featherweight.
  • Russian officials have extended former Bellator prospect Rasul Mirzaev’s stay in prison yet again, citing Mirzaev as a flight risk due to his career as a fighter and because of what is being called an ongoing investigation into the incident outside a Moscow night club that left a Moscow college student dead. While the extension was originally granted until February, it was reduced to December since pretrial procedures have barely begun. Mirzaev’s lawyers have argued that this investigation is unneeded since reports were already completed by the arresting officers, the hospital, and the medical examiner. Russian officials are stating that if released, Mirzaev will attempt to intimidate potential witnesses in the case or flee the city, an assertion Mirzaev vehemently denies. Meanwhile, Mirzaev’s attorneys have reported that Mirzaev’s family is receiving death threats related to the case and have appealed to the judge after alledging that Russian police have ignored them.
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