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Cole Konrad To Defend Heavyweight Championship In Bellator

Former Minnesota wrestler Cole Konrad will defend his heavyweight championship on Friday night at Bellator 70 against Eric Prindle.

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Fans of the Minnesota Golden Gophers wrestling program were probably pretty disappointed to see Brock Lesnar leave the UFC to head back to professional wrestling. All isn't lost, however, as the "U" still has an elite-level heavyweight competing in mixed martial arts.

Cole Konrad will defend his heavyweight championship for the first time on Friday night at Bellator 70, facing Eric Prindle in a matchup pitting together two of the biggest guys in MMA. The two-time national champion will and three-time Big Ten champion has had to wait quite awhile to defend his belt, but Bloody Elbow notes that Friday night's fight should be worth the wait.

Heavyweight champion Cole Konrad defends against Eric Prindle in the night's expected main event, falling in the shadow of Saturday's UFC alternative of Junior dos Santos vs. Frank Mir. Konrad (8-0) has been on the shelf since defeating Paul Buentello last August in a non-title fight with Friday's bout marking the first defense of the title he won in October 2010.

Prindle got the shot through a bizarre set of circumstances where his season five closing bout with Thiago Santos was ruled a no-contest due to a nasty low blow from Santos. The fight was rescheduled for the early part of the sixth season, but was put off once due to an illness from Prindle. A week later, Santos couldn't make weight and Prindle (7-1-0-1) was declared the de facto winner.

Before the Santos no-contest, Prindle had won seven in a row with four knockouts. He's gone the distance twice, while Konrad has been to a decision five times in eight fights. This fight was originally scheduled for mid-April, but was (of course) delayed because of injury.

It's quite the feat for Konrad to be defending a championship in just his ninth professional fight, but shows that Minnesota is quite adept at preparing its wrestlers for careers after college. It doesn't hurt, either, that Konrad's coach is former Gophers coach Marty Morgan.

For more on Bellator 70, including the rest of the fight card, be sure to check out SB Nation's hub page.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.