This championship fight pits two accomplished wrestlers against one another (Photos courtesy of Bellator).
Welterweight Championship on the Line October 29th in Kansas City
The stage is now set for an upcoming Bellator championship fight between reigning welterweight titleholder Ben Askren (8-0) and season four tournament winner Jay Hieron (22-4). The two highly skilled mixed marital artists will do battle on October 29th at Bellator 56, which will be held at Memorial Hall in Kansas City.
“I’ve been waiting for this fight for some time now,” Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney stated. “These are two great welterweights. Both are world class athletes, and neither of them like each other. Ben and Jay have been going back and forth on Twitter, and when that cage door shuts, they will have a chance to settle it.”
This fight will be the first title defense by Askren, who won the season two welterweight tournament and out-pointed then champion Lyman Good last October to claim the belt. In his lone match since, he defeated Nick Thompson by unanimous decision in a non-title bout this past April at Bellator 40. Before entering the world of MMA, the former collegiate wrestler at the University of Missouri advanced to four straight NCAA Championship Matches at 174 pounds, winning national titles in 2006 and 2007. He then went on to wrestle for the United States in the 2008 Olympics and made it to the quarterfinal round before falling to Buvaisar Saitiev of Russia. Askren, who is a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, then turned to MMA and began training with America Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida. After winning his first three professional MMA bouts in the first round, he then signed with Bellator to compete in its season two Tournament.
“I’ve been looking forward to this fight for a while,” Askren remarked. “I’m more excited to dominate Jay than anyone I have ever fought, so October 29th can’t get here fast enough. We’re going to put on a show.”
Askren also commented on fighting so close to his former college stomping grounds.
“It’s an unreal feeling knowing I’ll be fighting so close to Mizzou,” he commented. “It won’t affect me during the fight. I could beat Jay in his living room, but to be able to celebrate with all my friends and family after the win is going to awesome.”
A 26-match veteran, Hieron made his way through Anthony Lapsley, Brent Weedman and Rick Hawn to win the season four welterweight tournament. Before he turned to MMA, Hieron wrestled at Hofstra University after winning a National Junior College Championship at Nassau Community College in New York. Known as the Thoroughbred, he has won his past 11 fights and has previously found success in a variety of MMA promotions. In addition to appearances in the UFC, Strikeforce and Affliction, he was one of the top fighters in the now defunct International Fight League and held its welterweight title. The Long Island native is also a team leader for Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas, which is headed by UFC veteran, Randy Couture.
Despite knowing that he will likely face a significant crowd disadvantage fighting so close to the home of Askren, Hieron says that will not factor into the outcome of this bout.
“I’ve been getting ready for this fight for months, so location doesn’t matter,” he confirmed. “I’ve got one goal in mind, and that’s punching this guy in the face and taking his belt. We all know the game he is going to bring to the cage, and everyone knows mine, so it’s going to be a war, simple as that.”
Tickets for this championship fight are available now through TicketMaster, and non-local fans can also tune into the action on MTV2 or EPIX HD.