The follow-up to the first ever pay-per-view offering from the best tournament in sports was at first to be a featherweight title tilt between Pat Curran and Patricio Freire. When that bout was scrapped it was made official that a monstrous heavyweight collision was set to be showcased as the card’s top offering between James Thompson and Eric Prindle.
Then a quarterfinal in the 205 pound Summer Series tournament took the top spot.
Austen Heidlage (6-1) will stand toe-to-toe with the undefeated Brazilian Philipe Lins (7-0) and the winner will take the next step in the bracket for the 205 pound gold.
Heidlage will be making his Bellator debut and as mentioned will headline the event.
“My training was great and I’m completely relaxed now. I usually fight at 185, I walk around at 225 so this was an easy cut for the 205 pound tournament. I think it’s great that my old head coach was Nick Thompson and his last fight was a Bellator main event, so it’s fitting and awesome that my first Bellator fight is the main event.”
Nick Thompson lost to long time Bellator Welterweight title holder Ben Askren in the main event of Bellator 40.
However headlining the prominent card hasn’t gotten to Heidlage’s head, he’s got his full focus on his opponent.
“He’s got a real solid standup, probably better than me, but he hasn’t been against a guy with my judo and ground skills. He’s only had one fight outside of Brazil and that was his Bellator debut. He tore through him standing, but I’m confident in my stand up game but I will still take him down first chance I get.”
Lins defeated Travis Clark via Rear Naked Choke 40 seconds into the first round at Bellator 116.
“I’ve only had one fight go past the first round.” Continues Austen whose average fight time is just over 2 minutes. “When I did I won by head kick knockout in the 2nd. I know Philipe has a lot of first round and second round stoppages so I see no way that this can go the distance. I know somebody is going to be finished and it will be him. I’m going to submit him.”
Austen has finished all but one of his fights via first round submission, the only bout that didn’t end by way of tapout was against Aaron Young, who he beat via head kick in the second round, as mentioned.
“I’ll finish it by a submission that I’ve already used. I’m always looking to finish in the first, I like to control the tempo and the pace and bring him into my world. Not saying it will happen but that’s what I’m gunning for.”
Austen has won 2 fights via Gulliotine, 2 via Rear Naked Choke, and 2 via Kimura, so not even Ms. Cleo could predict how he plans on finishing his fight tonight.
The Toughest Tournament in Sports is all about progression towards the title but too many times a fighter has looked past their fight in anticipation of wearing the gold.
Austen won’t make that the case.
“If you look head then you lose your focus, one fight at a time. If I lose the tournament then this was all for nothing, I haven’t been able to really scout the tournament because I only got the call 2 weeks ago. I relish this opportunity and look to make the most of it.”
Austen is taking the “Mexicutioner” Joey Beltran’s place and will prove his worth tonight live on Spike TV.