Hornbuckle, Thomas Advance in Bellator Tourney; More Matchups Announced

By Jack Encarnacao Apr 22, 2010
UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- Seven days after he was prematurely knocked out of the Bellator Fighting Championships’ welterweight tournament due to a dubious referee stoppage, Ryan Thomas took full advantage of his second chance.

Thomas overcame early pressure from undefeated Arizona Combat Sports product Jacob McClintock on Thursday to hit a crowd-pleasing spinning guard pass and get position to land heavy strikes, compelling the referee to step in.

The withdrawal of the U.K.’s Jim Wallhead due to travel restrictions allowed Thomas to advance despite losing to Ben Askren by a technical submission call from the referee that was universally derided. In a strongly worded post-fight interview, Thomas called for an Askren rematch.

“There is a loss on my record that doesn’t belong there right now,” he said.

At the post-fight press conference, Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney announced that Thomas and Askren will rematch their controversial first bout at the Verizon Theater in Dallas.

Bellator also took questions from Twitter during the post-fight press conference, and the first came from Askren, who thanked Rebney for "making my road to the finals so easy."

"I’m really getting a distaste for that man," Thomas responded. "He didn’t beat me the first time, he didn’t even hurt me. He's not going to hurt me this time. He’s got nothing for me and I'm going to smash his face."

The favorite in the 170-pound tournament, Dan Hornbuckle, made short work of Tyler Stinson, a Kansas City fighter who won a Bellator open tryout last month. The Sengoku standout used his long legs to lock a triangle choke shortly after the fight hit the floor. Hornbuckle promised Bellator 170-pound champion Lyman Good, seated cageside, that he’s coming for the strap.

The final quarterfinal fights in the featherweight division were also featured on Bellator Fighting Championships 15, which took place before 2,289 fans.

Northeast Brazil prospect Patricio "Pitbull" Freire was cool and collected in his first-round inverted heelhook submission of William Romero, which came two minutes into the fight. Freire, a tourney frontrunner, improved to 13-0 and meets Wilson Reis on May 13 in Monroe, La.

In the evening’s only tournament fight to leave the first frame, Iowa-based Iraq war veteran Steve Carl scored a split decision over Brett Cooper, using dogged takedowns but absorbing plenty of strikes in a close fight.

The crowd booed the decision vociferously, to the point it was hard to hear Carl on the microphone afterwards. Judge Jeff Blatnick gave rounds two and three to Cooper; judges Bryan Miner and Dave Tirelli gave rounds one and two to Carl.

Carl didn’t attend the post-fight press conference.

"I'm kind of wondering where Steve is at, he's probably icing his face," Cooper said. "I'm kind of disappointed, I thought I won. I come out slow, it's a bad habit of mine. I don't want to be a sore loser, but I guess I am."

Carl advances on to face Hornbuckle at Bellator’s May 20 event at the Verizon Theater in Dallas, announced Rebney.

Full Results:

Dave Branch def. Derrick Mehman -- Submission (Rear-Naked Choke) 0:26 R2
Ryan Quinn def. Matt Lee -- Unanimous Decision
Steve Carl def. Brett Cooper -- Split Decision
Dan Hornbuckle def. Tyler Stinson -- Submission (Triangle Choke) 2:03 R1
Ryan Thomas def. Jacob McClintock -- TKO (Punches) 4:11 R1
Patricio Freire def. William Romero -- Submission (Heelhook) 2:01 R1
Dan Cramer def. Dennis Olsen -- Unanimous Decision
Rich de los Reyes def. Brylan Vanartsdalen -- Submission (Rear-Naked Choke) 2:03 R2

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