Nick Thompson (left) and Ben Askren will take to the cage at Bellator 40. | Photo Courtesy: Bellator
From the day he signed, Jay Hieron has been viewed as the tournament favorite. So far, he has done nothing to diminish those expectations.
The former International Fight League titleholder checked in at 170.5 pounds for his showdown with Brent Weedman (170.2) in the Bellator Fighting Championships Season 4 welterweight tournament semifinals at Bellator 40 on Saturday at the First Council Casino in Newkirk, Okla. The two participants in the event’s lone lightweight tournament bout -- Lloyd Woodard (155) and Michael Chandler (155) -- also met their contracted weight requirements at Friday’s official weigh-in.
Hieron will enter the match on the strength of an eight-fight winning streak. Based at Xtreme Couture Mixed Martial Arts in Las Vegas, he advanced to the semifinal round with a controversial submission victory over Anthony Lapsley at Bellator 35 in March. The 34-year-old Long Island, N.Y., native owns notable wins against former Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion Delson Heleno, 2009 Dream welterweight grand prix finalist Jason High, “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 7 alum Jesse Taylor and current UFC welterweight contender Jake Ellenberger. A model of consistency, Hieron has never lost back-to-back fights.
One of the sport’s best-kept secrets, Weedman has quietly rattled off 10 consecutive victories. The 27-year-old Louisville, Ky.-based welterweight last fought at Bellator 35 in March, when he notched a unanimous decision over Sengoku Raiden Championship veteran Dan Hornbuckle at the Tachi Palace Hotel and Casino in Lemoore, Calif. A potent finisher, Weedman has delivered 17 of his 18 career wins by knockout, technical knockout or submission. He holds an unblemished 4-0 mark under the Bellator banner.
Bellator 40 -- which airs on MTV2 at 9 p.m. ET/PT -- will also feature a non-title super fight pitting welterweight champion Ben Askren (170.6) against the well-traveled Nick Thompson (170.8).
Unbeaten in seven professional MMA appearances, the 26-year-old Askren was a two-time NCAA wrestling champion at the University of Missouri and competed at the 2008 Olympics. Thompson, 27, will enter his promotional debut on a three-fight losing streak.
Saturday, April 9
First Council Casino
Bellator Lightweight Tournament Semifinal
Lloyd Woodard (155) vs. Michael Chandler (155)
Bellator Welterweight Tournament Semifinal
Jay Hieron (170.5) vs. Brent Weedman (170.2)
Ben Askren (170.6) vs. Nick Thompson (170.8)
Tyler Stinson (170) vs. Nathan James (170)
Eric Prindle (265) vs. Josh Burns (257.2)
David Rickles (169) vs. Dylan Smith (169)
Cody Carrillo (155) vs. Michael Osborn (155)