Vinicius Kappke de Queiroz has been forced to withdraw from Bellator’s 2013 Summer Series heavyweight tournament.
Bellator officials announced the news Tuesday, revealing that Ryan Martinez (Pictured) will fill in for the injured “Spartan” against Rich Hale at tomorrow’s Bellator 96.
“I’m looking at this opportunity as a blessing,” Martinez stated in a release. “Rich is a very qualified and tough guy, but I’m ready. I’ve been training with ‘King Mo’ [Lawal] and Roy Nelson over the last few months, so I basically went through a normal training camp and haven’t stopped training. This is a huge chance for me, and I’m ready.”
Bellator 96 takes place Wednesday night at Winstar World Casino in Thackerville, Okla., and will also showcase the opening round of the organization’s four-man light heavyweight tournament featuring Muhammed Lawal, Seth Petruzelli, Jacob Noe and Renato Sobral. The winner of Martinez’s clash with Hale will advance to the heavyweight finals, facing the winner of Vitaly Minakov’s bout with Ron Sparks.
Martinez, 25, has won seven of his last eight fights and rides back-to-back wins into his first Bellator tournament appearance. After going the distance in each of his first two promotional outings, the Coloradoan picked up a quick knockout over former light heavyweight finalist Travis Wiuff, knocking out the veteran in just 18 seconds on March 21.
“Ryan’s a huge potential player in our heavyweight division,” Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney stated. “We had him slotted for our next heavyweight tournament but paid him to be here and make weight as if he was going to fight just for this reason. And his back-to-back camps with [Lawal] and [Nelson] have him ready for tomorrow night’s fight.”