Janne Tulirinta has been forced to withdraw from Bellator’s season two lightweight tournament due to visa issues, the promotion announced in a press release on Wednesday afternoon.
Replacing Tulirinta in the fold will be U.S. Army Ranger and Purple Heart honoree Joe Duarte, a 5-1 upstart from Guam.
“We are disappointed that Janne Tulirinta won’t be able to participate in our tournament but are very fortunate that we were able to secure a very high-caliber fighter like Joe Duarte to step up so quickly,” stated Bellator founder and CEO Bjorn Rebney in the release. “Joe’s known for his standup game so his bout against Carey Vanier, a very talented wrestler, will be an interesting one. Joe was our first alternate at 155, and his opportunity came and he was ready. More importantly than any of that, Joe is an American hero who regularly put his life on the line while serving as an Army Ranger in Iraq. I am proud to welcome him to our organization.”
Duarte, 26, will square off against Greg Jackson protégé Carey Vanier (7-2) Thursday night at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Fla.
The event will be televised live on Fox Sports Net, and portions of the card will be replayed on weekly-review shows via NBC and Telemundo.