Rafael Silva out of Bellator 111 with knee injury; Anthony Leone now challenges Eduardo Dantas for title

An knee injury has forced Summer Series Tournament winner Rafael Silva to pull out of his Bellator 111 bout against bantamweight champion Eduardo Dantas and replacing him in the bout will be tournament runner-up Anthony Leone.Bellator 111 New

The injury to Silva was announced by Bellator MMA on Wednesday in a press release.

Bellator MMA Chairman and CEO Bjorn Rebney stated in the press release that the the title fight was initially offered to season nine tournament winner Joe Warren. However, Warren turned down the fight since he is recovering from a knee injury.

“This was a difficult process with Silva suffering injury, but when we considered all our options, we felt like this decision made the most sense,” Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney said. “After we heard the news on Silva, we immediately made the call to our other Bantamweight Tournament winner Joe Warren.

“Joe informed us he was still rehabbing a previous knee injury and would be unable to compete on the March 7th card, but he will be 100% ready to go for his originally scheduled fight in May. It’s always our goal to keep our fighters as busy as possible, and we didn’t want Eduardo sitting on the sidelines. With our Tournament Champion Replacement Clause in place, we contacted Anthony and are moving full steam ahead with our Bantamweight Title fight on March 7th to headline a huge night of fights.”

Bellator had previously announced that Warren would face the winner of the Bellator 111 title fight on May 2nd at Revel in Atlantic City. While he is recovering from a knee injury right now, the former Bellator champion stated he will be ready for his chance at the title on May 2nd.

“It was really hard to have to Bjorn call me and have to turn down a fight, but my knee just isn’t at a place I’m comfortable with, and my timeline has always been to get back in the cage in May,” Warren said. You know ‘The Baddest Man On The Planet’ will step in against anyone, and it would have been nice to take that belt away from Dantas a few months early, but I’m going to heal up, train like a madman, and whoever has that belt come May, they better shine it up for me, I’m taking it home.”

This is the second time that Bellator MMA has used the tournament champion replacement clause. The first time came during season nine when Doug Marshall pulled out of his title fight against middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko at Bellator 98 and Brett Cooper stepped into the title fight.

Leone (13-6) initially made his debut in Bellator MMA in 2010 and was defeated by Silva in the Summer Series tournament final in October. The defeat snapped a four fight winning streak and during that winning streak, he defeated Claudio Ledesma, Zach Makovsky, and Frank Baca inside the Bellator MMA cage.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for me and when I got the call from Bjorn, I jumped at the opportunity,” Leone said. “Dantas is incredibly tough and I’m in for a tough fight, but I’m ready for this title fight, and I’m going to make the most of the opportunity.”

The current Bellator 111: Dantas vs. Leone fight card is below.

Main Card: (Spike TV – 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT)
Eduardo Dantas (15-3) vs. Anthony Leone (13-6)
Ryan Martinez (10-3) vs. Lavar Johnson (17-8) *
Peter Graham (9-6) vs. Mighty Mo (5-2) *
Alexander Volkov (19-4) vs. Mark Holata (12-4) *

Preliminary Card: (Spike.com – 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT)
Blagoi Ivanov (9-0) vs. Rich Hale (21-6) *
Daniel Miller (4-1) vs. Cortez Coleman (9-5)
Javy Ayala (6-3) vs. Eric Prindle (8-4)
Emeliano Sordi (12-4) vs. Matt Jones (4-6)
Brent Primus (4-0) vs. Chris Jones (8-2)
Treston Thomison (7-1) vs. Stephen Banaszak (2-1)

* – Heavyweight Tournament Opening Round Bout