A bout that was supposed to settle the unfinished business between Eric Prindle and Thiago Santos instead came to another bizarre end.
Reversing roles from their first meeting, a downed Santos took a groin kick that prevented him from continuing.
But unlike that meeting, which took place this past November, Prindle was disqualified, and Santos earned a spot in the semifinals of the Bellator Season 7 heavyweight tournament to cap an evening of fights at Bellator 75.
The event took place at The Venue at Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Ind. Its main card aired on MTV2 following preliminary-card fights on Spike.com.
Referee Greg Franklin, who also oversaw the duo's first meeting at Bellator 59, ruled that Prindle threw an intentionally illegal blow that warranted a disqualification. The blow, an errant axe kick, caused Santos to roll over in pain as officials attempted to tend to him. Lying on his stomach, he appeared to nap before being rolled to his back. It was clear he could not continue.
The boot to the jewels that ended the heavyweights' first fight was ruled unintentional and called a no-contest.
Prindle apologized to cameras and appeared contrite to officials and Santos and his camp. The official time of the stoppage was 4:54 of the first round.
Up until that point, the bout had been going swimmingly for Santos, who charged in and slammed Prindle to the mat. Working for multiple submissions, it appeared a matter of time before he forced a tap-out. But Prindle showed far more intelligence on the ground and managed to escape.
Santos invited him to the ground, but Prindle stayed overhead. Franklin could be heard warning Prindle not to kick the groin. Then he did.
After the first meeting, the two were scheduled to meet at Bellator 61, but Prindle was forced to withdraw the day prior to the fight due to an illness, and another scheduled meeting set for the finals of the Season 5 tournament was marred when Santos failed to make weight and Prindle was ruled the tournament's default winner.
As far as each other, the matchup appears to be cursed.
Following a three-fight win streak in Bellator, Prindle (7-3 MMA, 3-2 BFC) now suffers his first official loss. Apart from the no-contest, Santos (10-1 MMA, 3-0 BFC) has won his past five outings.