Lewis-Santos Heavyweight Qualifier Added to Bellator 45

By Chris Nelson May 16, 2011
Brazilian heavyweight “Big Monster” Thiago Santos (Pictured) will make his North American debut against hard-hitting New Orleans native Derrick Lewis at Bellator Fighting Championships 45.

The promotion on Monday officially announced the previously reported bout, also revealing that the matchup will serve as a qualifier for Bellator’s fifth-season heavyweight tournament. Only recent signee Eric Prindle has been announced for the eight-man bracket -- the winner of which will earn a shot at reigning champ Cole Konrad -- but rumored participants include Blagoi Ivanov, Tony Johnson Jr., and Ron Sparks.

Bellator 45, which rounds out the company’s fourth season, airs live on MTV2 this Saturday, May 21, from the L’Auberge du Lac Casino Resort Event Center in Lake Charles, La. Topping the bill will be tournament finals in both the 145- and 205-pound divisions, with Patricio Freire facing Daniel Straus and Richard Hale facing Christian MPumbu, respectively.

Santos cut his teeth on the vale tudo circuit in his hometown of Rio de Janeiro, winning an October 2007 Rio Heroes tournament with three stoppages in a combined 6:51. In 2009, Santos competed in a one-night tournament in Russia, where he incurred the lone blemish on his 8-1 record, a submission loss to Alexey Oleinik. The 6-foot-3, 260-pound Brazilian rebounded with a May 2010 knockout of Geronimo “Mondragon” dos Santos, and was last seen taking a disqualification win over Ubiratan Lima in August.

“The footage I’ve seen of Thiago looks dominant,” Bellator Chairman and CEO Bjorn Rebney stated in a release. “Getting him in the Bellator cage will be a great way to close out what has already been a tremendous season while potentially giving fans a glimpse of what's to come.”

Looking to block Santos’ path to the tournament is Lewis, a once-beaten 26-year-old who fights out of Silverback MMA in Houston. In little more than one year as a professional, the “Black Beast” has compiled a 4-1 record, with all four wins coming by way of stoppage.

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