Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren
won a one-sided unanimous decision in a non-title match, and Jay Hieron
and Michael Chandler advanced to the finals of their respective Season 4 tournaments on Saturday night at Bellator 40.
As is so often the case, Bellator put on an entertaining show on MTV2, but it will be largely overlooked because it took place on a night when there was a bigger MMA event going on in the Strikeforce card on Showtime. That's a shame for Bellator, which is putting good fighters in the cage consistently.
Askren is one of the best wrestlers in MMA, and it was no surprise that he completely dominated Nick Thompson. All three judges scored the fight 30-27 for Askren, who's the best welterweight outside the UFC and Strikeforce.
Hieron won a hard-fought unanimous decision over Brent Weedman to advance to the finals of Bellator's welterweight tournament. Weedman dropped Hieron with a punch just 25 seconds into the first round and then mounted him on the ground, and in the early going it appeared that Weedman was going to pull the upset.
But as the fight wore on Hieron was able to do just enough to grind out a close decision, as all three judges scored it 29-28 for Hieron, who will fight Rick Hawn in the welterweight tournament final.
In a semifinal bout in Bellator's lightweight tournament, Chandler grinded his way to a unanimous decision victory over the previously undefeated Lloyd Woodard. Chandler started the fight on a furious pace, charging forward with punches and then body slamming Woodard to the canvas, and although Woodard was game throughout, it was Chandler who was more aggressive and generally controlled the pace of the fight. All three judges scored the bout 29-28 for Chandler, as did I.
Now Chander, who improved his professional MMA record to 7-0, will prepare to fight Patricky "Pitbull" Freire in the lightweight tournament final in what should be an excellent fight.