Jay Hieron (above right) will take on Steve Carl at Bellator 35. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Bellator Fighting Championships on Tuesday made its first matches of the year, officially announcing that all four of its Season four welterweight quarterfinals will take place at Bellator Fighting Championships 35 on March 5 at the Tachi Palace Hotel and Casino in Lemoore, Calif.
The televised card, which airs live on MTV2, will be headlined by a matchup of former champion Lyman Good and unbeaten knockout artist Chris Lozano. Bolstering the undercard will be opening-round bouts pitting Season two finalist Dan Hornbuckle against the streaking Brent Weedman, Bellator newcomer Jay Hieron against tournament veteran Steve Carl, and Olympic judoka Rick Hawn against “Judo” Jim Wallhead.
“This welterweight tournament is stacked. Every fight should be hyper-competitive,” Bellator Chairman and CEO Bjorn Rebney stated in a release. “Any one of these eight fighters could win it, make $100,000 and earn the right to fight [current Bellator welterweight champion Ben] Askren for our world title.”
The winner of Bellator’s inaugural 170-pound bracket, Good dropped his title, along with the first bout of his career, in a five-round decision loss to Askren last October. Prior to that, the Tiger Schulmann-trained “Cyborg” had marched through 10 straight opponents. Good has never been finished, which is the specialty of his opponent, Lozano. The Cleveland-based “Assassin” holds a record of 6-0, with all six wins by some form of knockout, and earned his slot in the upcoming tourney with a September win against UFC veteran Yoshiyuki Yoshida.
Like Good, Hornbuckle also suffered his first loss inside the Bellator cage at the hands of Askren in 2010. The June defeat snapped a six-fight win streak for the “Handler,” which included knockouts of Akihiro Gono and Nick Thompson under the Sengoku banner. To get his revenge on Askren, Hornbuckle will have to go through Weedman, who seeks revenge of his own: the Kentucky native was submitted by a Hornbuckle triangle choke at a 2006 event in Indiana. Weedman enters the tournament riding nine straight victories, including three first-round stoppages inside Bellator.
Hieron, Bellator’s highest-profile offseason acquisition, comes in on a seven-fight streak of his own. The “Thoroughbred” competed just once in 2010, earning a unanimous decision against Joe Riggs in Strikeforce. The Xtreme Couture product holds notable career wins over Jake Ellenberger, Jason High and Delson Heleno. A veteran of the U.S. Army, Carl advanced to the semifinals of Bellator’s Season two welterweight tournament before being eliminated by Hornbuckle. In August, he punched his ticket for the Season four field by choking out Tyler Stinson at Bellator 26.
A member of the 2004 U.S. Olympic judo team, Hawn is perfect in his MMA campaign at 9-0. In his Bellator debut last October, the Massachusetts-based fighter used his base skill to whip LeVon Maynard to the mat and finish with punches. His opponent, Wallhead, also comes from a judo background and likewise won his Bellator debut in October against Ryan Thomas. The 26-year-old Englishman has won nine straight, with five stoppages in that span.
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