Rick Hawn will be the first challenger for new Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler.
The former U.S. judo Olympian capped off his run through Bellator's lightweight tournament, defeating Brent Weedman by unanimous decision at Bellator 70. One judge scored the fight 30-27 while the other two saw it 29-28.
"I'm excited," Hawn said. "Chandler I know you're home watching. I'm coming for you. I'm taking that belt."
The first round was closely contested, with Hawn landing more power strikes but Weedman the more active fighter in sheer volume. Hawn turned up the pressure in round two, taking more control of the tempo as he continued to land his lead jab and score with the right occasionally. He also landed one of his signature judo throws in the round, though Weedman got back to his feet quickly and took no ground damage.
The third was clearly Hawn's, as he scored a takedown and landed elbows from the top in addition to controlling the standup.
Hawn is now 14-1 overall after winning three times in two months.
"It's indescribable," he said. "It's a long season. It's been hard.
Weedman fell to 20-8-1.
The lightweight tournament finale served as the night's main event even though the promotion saw its heavyweight title up for grabs. Perhaps that's because champion Cole Konrad has received plenty of criticism for his grinding style, but Konrad made quick work of his challenger, beating Eric Prindle with a kimura at 60 seconds of the first round of their bout.
Konrad not surprisingly took Prindle down within the first 20 seconds of the fight. But as Prindle tried to keep an underhook from the bottom, Konrad secured the arm and Prindle yelled in agony, causing the referee to stop the bout.
The victory marked his first successful title defense after winning the belt in October 2010. It was only the second finish in seven Bellator fights for Konrad, but looking at it another way, he's finished two of his last three opponents.
"The first few fights, I had a little nerves, but now that's gone," he said. "I'm ready to rock and roll when I get out here."
Konrad is still unbeaten, now 9-0. Prindle fell to 7-2 with 1 no contest.
In a Bellator bantamweight semifinal, Luis Nogueira knocked out Hiroshi Nakamura to advance.
Nogueira beat Nakamura up over the first two rounds, bloodying his face in the second due to multiple cuts from strikes. He finally finished him off in the third, stunning the Japanese fighter with a short right hand, then dropping him with a left hook. A few cursory ground strikes later, and ref Jason Herzog called a halt to the action 1:58 into the final frame.
"I knew he was feeling my punches, but I was waiting for the right moment to finish the fight," he said afterward through his translator.
Nogueira (14-2) advances to face Marcos Galvao in the tournament final at a date to be determined.
In a lightweight feature fight, Rich Clementi defeated Derek Campos with a first-round guillotine choke submission. Campos had just gotten back to his feet and shot in for a takedown just past the mid-point of the round when Clementi snatched his neck and cinched in an arm-in version of the hold.
Campos tried to defend but it was tight and he was forced to tap.
Clementi, who had lost three of four coming into the fight, improved to 43-21 with the win, while Campos fell to 9-3 after losing his promotional debut.
During the show, Bellator also announced that its featherweight champion Pat Curran would defend his belt against top contender Patricio Pitbull on August 24.