When Bellator Season 4 Welterweight Tournament winner Jay Hieron and 170-pound champ Ben Askren battle later this year the man who emerges victorious will already have a group of contenders on the cusp of challenging for the divisional crown. Among the eight men announced for action on September 10 at Bellator 49 will be former finalist Rick Hawn and UFC veteran Ben Saunders who are set to face each other in the competition’s open round.
Their bout was announced earlier today along with three other quarterfinal fights through an official press release. As has been the case in all Bellator tournaments, the last individual standing will be granted a crack at the title-holder.
Saunders won his promotional debut last April after beating opponent Matt Lee into a pulp and forcing a doctor’s stoppage in the third round. He holds an overall record of 10-3-2 including finishing performances in the Octagon against Ryan Thomas and Marcus Davis. However, he has never faced a judoka of Hawn’s caliber and should be in for a challenge given his upcoming adversary’s skillset.
Hawn’s Olympic credentials in judo have helped carry him to an 11-1 record in his career with the only stumble coming against Hieron in a controversial Split Decision at Bellator 43. The 34-year old has finished seven of the opponents he’s faced thus far, all by way of TKO.
The remaining trio of Bellator Season 5 Welterweight Tournament match-ups will feature rising star Brent Weedman taking on knockout artist Chris Lozano, sensational newcomer Douglas Lima putting his six-fight winning streak on the line against submission savvy Steve Carl, and longtime Bellator staple Dan Hornbuckle making one more run at the belt with 49-6-1 Luis Sapo standing in his way.
PHOTO CREDIT – BELLATOR