It isn't rare for fighters to meet three times inside the ring or cage. But in the case of Eric Prindle and Thiago Santos, the circumstances that created the need for the two to fight a third time against each other are rare.
When these two first met almost a year ago at Bellator 59, it was in the finals of the promotion's season five heavyweight tournament. Santos had a clear advantage early, getting a few takedowns on Prindle without trouble and generally dominating the action. Less than two minutes into the fight, Santos was standing and Prindle on the mat when Santos appeared to just walk up and kick Prindle in his cup. It was an obvious low-blow and one that seemed without motive or provocation. It was almost as if Santos had something else in mind, but his brain and body weren't in sync with each other.
It was quickly obvious that five minutes wasn't going to be enough for Prindle to recover. The fight ended up being a no-contest despite being a tournament bout. No rematch was ever made for the tournament final to be decided, though Prindle ended up getting the Bellator heavyewight title shot that was to go to the winner of the tournament. Call it a consolation prize for the shot to the privates he took.
Last Friday, the two had a rematch. The circumstances were similar as the bout was part of the quarterfinals of Bellator's season seven heavyweight tournament.
Santos was once again overpowering and dominant on the ground, keeping Prindle from doing much of anything. Like the first fight, Santos wasn't doing a ton of work while he had Prindle on the ground, but he was asserting authority over Prindle and dominance over how the fight was taking shape.
However, Prindle was the one on his feet and Santos on his back on the canvas as the round neared a close. Granted this was just because Prindle was able to get to his feet during a brief bit of grappling between the two and Santos got into defense mode on his back. Neither man saw what was coming next.
For some reason, Prindle decided to go for a stomp during the final ten seconds of the round and instead of his foot stomping Santos in the chest or body, Prindle's foot stomped Santos right in his genitals. Prindle immediately knew what he had done and was frustrated, realizing how this all might end while probably feeling a bit of reverse deja vu.
Prindle's fears ended up coming true as the fight had to be stopped because Santos couldn't continue. The stomp was called an intentional foul even though it was obvious that Prindle's intent wasn't to commit a foul. Because of that, Santos was awarded the win by disqualification and moved on in the tournament.
So what now? It's obvious that a third fight needs to happen at some point. It can't be right away because Santos is still in the tournament. But when it can be made, a third fight between these two needs to be made. It's simply about settling the matter of who could beat who in a fight: Eric Prindle or Thiago Santos. Because we haven't found out yet.
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