(UPDATING – FIGHT CANCELED)
Neil “Goliath” Grove has pulled out of his fight Saturday against former Ultimate Fighter heavyweight Zak Jensen at Bellator 43 in Newkirk, Okla. due to an injury that has been slow to heal and the fight has now been canceled, MMADieHards.com has learned.
Bellator boss Bjorn Rebney said Tuesday on the Bellator Beat radio show on the MMA DieHards Radio Network that a replacement was being sought. Jensen told MMADieHards.com on Wednesday morning that no replacement was found and he was not fighting this weekend.
There is a chance the Grove-Jensen matchup could happen at another Bellator event, a source close to the promotion said. The fight was slated to be one of the bouts featured on the television broadcast of Bellator 43 on MTV2. Former IFL champion Jay Hieron meets ex-Olympic judoka Rick Hawn in the Season 4 welterweight tournament finals as the main event.
Grove (10-3-1) was a finalist in the Bellator heavyweight tournament, which he lost to Cole Konrad in October, when he was submitted via keylock with 15 seconds left in the first round. The 40-year-old from South Africa who fights out of England is a UFC veteran, losing to Mike Ciesnolevicz at UFC 95 in February 2009 in his only appearance.
A mainstay for Cage Rage in 2007-08, this would have been Grove’s fourth straight fight in Bellator. Nicknamed “Goliath” due to his 6-foot-6 frame, Grove won his quarterfinal and semifinal tournament matches in a grand total of 2:17, scoring respective TKOs against Eddie Sanchez and Alexey Oleinik. The Bellator fights have been Grove’s first in professional MMA outside of England.
Jensen (10-6) is coming off a 16-second knockout win over Jason Ackerman in North Dakota in November to halt a three-fight losing streak. The Hopkins, Minn. native wrestled at Division I North Illinois for two years after playing football there as a freshman, then wrestled two more years at Division III Augsburg before going into MMA. He was a two-time Greco-Roman All-America at Northern Illinois.
Jensen was selected as part of Team Rampage on the 10th season of the The Ultimate Fighter, losing in the first round to Darril Schoonover. Since his last MMA fight, made his professional boxing debut, falling to Serhiy Karpenko.
“I’m disappointed the fight with Neil is not happening this weekend,” Jensen told MMADieHards.com. “I hope he recovers fast, so we can fight in the future.”