Joe Warren has a new opponent for next Friday's Bellator card. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
A head injury suffered in training has forced Bellator bantamweight champion Eduardo Dantas to withdraw from his next title defense.
Bellator MMA officials announced Saturday that tournament winners Joe Warren and Rafael Silva will now lock horns this Friday over an interim title at Bellator 118. The May 2 event takes place at Revel Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, N.J., and airs live on Spike TV.
Dantas has been sidelined indefinitely by his injury. When “Dudu” is deemed healthy enough to compete, he will return to the cage to challenge Friday’s winner for the undisputed championship.
“This is [a] setback for me,” Dantas said in the official release. “I’m not feeling right at the moment, but I am a fighter and have been a fighter since my childhood, and I promise that I will be back stronger than ever. I want to thank Bjorn [Rebney] and Bellator for taking care of me during this process, for flying me across the world to get top specialists to see me. And, when I am ready to fight, I will show everyone once again why the belt has been wrapped around my waist.”
Warren, 37, earned his crack at the title by winning the Season 9 bantamweight tournament last November. A Greco-Roman wrestling world champion and former Bellator featherweight king, Warren rides a three-fight winning streak into his title opportunity.
In Silva, Warren faces a man who has not lost since February 2011. The Brazilian won the 2013 Summer Series last year by besting Rodrigo Lima and Anthony Leone but saw injury knock him out of a planned showdown with Dantas last month at Bellator 102.