There is nothing too funky about “Funky” Ben Askren’s wrestling. It’s flat-out dominant.
The former US Olympic wrestler did not put his welterweight belt on the line Saturday, but Askren showed off his game in a three-round domination of Nick Thompson in the headlining match at Bellator 40 at First Council Casino in Newkirk, Okla.
Askren (8-0) put the grappling ace on his back and kept him there nearly the length of the three-round match to claim a unanimous decision, winning every round, including one by 10-8 in the mind of one of the judges. The most offense Thompson (38-14-1) mustered was in the final moments, but Askren was not in any trouble at any moment.
“It felt great,”said Askren, celebrating his first wedding anniversary. “Still unbeaten. How do you like me now?”
Askren’s next opponent might well have been fighting in the match that took place immediately before his, as Jay Hieron (21-4) reached the finals of the Season 4 welterweight tournament with a unanimous decision victory over Brent Weedman.
Hieron will take on Rick Hawn in the finals of the tournament. The winner gets a title shot against Askren.
“He came to fight,” Hieron said of Weedman (19-6-1), who beat Dan Hornbuckle in a quarterfinal upset and gave Hieron all he could handle in the underdog role. “He’s a tough guy. That’s what I want, I want tough fights like that. I feel I’m the best in the world, and those are the fights I need to get there. I’m coming, baby. The Thorobred is coming, galloping.”
From the sound of it, Askren might be rooting for Hieron against Hawn.
“I watched Jay Hieron tonight and I wasn’t impressed,” Askren said. “I’m in his dressing room so who knows, he might come try and get me. But he ain’t got nothing for me. I like to think (I have the answer for anybody). But let’s go and do it.”
Askren’s college teammate at Missouri, Michael Chandler, scored a similarly styled victory to advance to the finals of the lightweight tournament. Chandler (7-0), although not as dominant, kept Lloyd Woodward on the defensive and on his back long enough to win two rounds and take the victory.
“Lloyd’s the man,” Chandler said. “He was game. The toughest dude I have ever fought, might be one of the toughest dudes I’ll ever fight.”
Woodard entered the battle of unbeatens at 11-0.
Chandler will face the impressive Patrick “Pitbull” Freire in the lightweight tournament finals, with a Season 4 tournament check and a date with lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez on the line.
“Gimme him,” Chandler said. “Two-thirds of the way to the gold. The goal is to win this Bellator tournament and get that title shot. Patricky, he’s flashy, he knocks people out. I can’t wait. Let’s go.”
Elsewhere on the card, the main portion of which was televised by MTV2, Eric Prindle defeated Josh Burns via doctor’s stoppage due to swelling from a cut over the left eye after two rounds in a heavyweight bout. That match made the broadcast.
On the undercard, Tyler Stinson earned a split decision over Nate James, David Rickles finished Dylan Smith 3:32 into the fight with a triangle choke, and Michael Osborn pounded out Cody Carrillo in 87 seconds.