Ben Askren defends Bellator welterweight title against undefeated Russian

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Undefeated welterweight Ben Askren is set for his latest challenge.

Bellator MMA's 170-pound champion returns to action on July 31 at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, N.M., a suburb of Albuquerque. His opponent on the evening is fellow unbeaten Andrey Koreshkov.

Askren (11-0), the former U. of Missouri wrestling standout, has held the title since 2010 and will be making his fourth title defense. His most recent victory was a doctor stoppage TKO over Karl Amoussou on Jan. 24.

"I'm really looking forward to getting back into that cage and putting on a show," Askren said. "I feel like I've continued to mature and get better in every one of my fights, and July 31st should be no different. I don't think Andrey has any ability to stop my wrestling and ground attack, so this will be another successful title defense."

Korsehkov, meanwhile, has a sizzling 2012 in which he went 5-0. His year was capped with decision over Lyman Good on Nov. 30 to claim the tourney title.

"I'll be 110 percent ready for this fight," Koreshkov said. "I'll make sure that Askren's tactics to put everybody in the audience to sleep won't work this time. Instead, I'll keep everybody entertained by putting him to sleep."

The Rio Rancho card will also feature the postponed season eight welterweight tourney final, as Douglas Lima takes on Ben Saunders. The bout, originally scheduled for March 21, was delayed when Lima (24-5) suffered a broken hand.

"It's an honor to fight a fighter like Ben again," Lima said. "With the time off I've been able to fully heal to 100 percent and like always, will be looking to finish the fight early."

Lima vs. Saunders is a rematch of the Bellator season five tournament, won by Lima on a second-round KO.

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