Bellator Fighting Championships’ second trip to the Sooner State featured two semi-final match-ups in the Season 4 Welterweight and Lightweight Tournaments and a superfight between reigning Bellator Welterweight Champion Ben Askren (8-0) and MMA veteran “The Goat” Nick Thompson (38-14). A sold out crowd welcomed Bellator and the fighters with cheers and open arms. First on the slate Xtreme Couture finisher Mike Chandler (7-0) took on former boxer and fellow undefeated slugger “Cupcake” Lloyd Woodard (11-1), then underdog Brent Weedman (18-6) tested himself against the dangerous and experienced “The Thoroughbred” Jay Hieron (18-4). Here, MMA Gospel takes a look at how the night played out.
Michael Chandler vs. Lloyd Woodard: The action started off guns blazing! Chandler came forward throwing strikes and Woodard answered with his own. They tied against the cage and Chandler showed why he was a finisher. Chandler picked Woodard up over his shoulders and slammed him onto the mat. “Cupcake” ate several rib shots from Chandler as he fought his way to his feet but Chandler slammed him down again. Chandler had the strength advantage for sure in this fight, and his wrestling was shining early on. They finally separated and Chandler continued forward and pulled Woodard back to the mat. They battled for position back and forth for the rest of the closing minutes of the round, and though Woodard returned to his feet again the strength and fire of Chandler got him back to the canvas.
The second round started a bit slower than the previous. Chandler went for the takedown but Woodard stuffed it and was able to turn the tide against the former NCAA wrestler. Chandler ate several uppercuts and elbows from “Cupcake” which dropped him and a solid knee, but Chandler powered through to get back to his feet. Chandler picked up Woodard again and slammed him onto his back, but Woodard had a Kimura on the right arm which he used to flip Chandler over and take his back as they stood up. With Chandler in defense mode, Woodard stayed on the back of Chandler as they rolled on the mat. Woodard locked in a Rear Naked Choke in the last 15 seconds but Chandler went to the mat and survived the attempt as the bell saved him from further punishment.
The third and final round of the lightweight semi-final began and Chandler was breathing out of his mouth with his nose bleeding. Woodard was clearly the fresher fighter but Chandler continued to press forward. Chandler checked several leg kicks and answered with a kick of his own, but there wasn’t much snap in his strikes. Chandler and Woodard tied up against the cage – Chandler’s gameplan was clearly to set up takedowns with his strikes. Chandler took Woodard down, but Woodard refused to stay on his back until Chandler picked up “Cupcake”, walked to the center of the cage, and slammed him onto his back. Despite a stand-up due to inactivity, Chandler managed to get Woodard down again and controlled him for the remainder of the bout to get the Unanimous Decision and now will move on to face the Brazilian power puncher “Pitbull” Patricky Freire (3-0). Although just having a tough fight with Woodard, whom Chandler called the toughest man he will ever fight, he claims he is ready to take on Freire. Now that questions about his ability to go the distance are answered, many fans would be inclined to agree.
Jay Hieron vs. Brent Weedman: Both men made their way to the cages with confidence in their eyes and noticeable swagger. Weedman was the underdog against the former IFL champion but was prepared for a war and wasn’t backing down in the least. Hieron was light on his feet as the fight started but it was Weedman who was pressing the action. Hieron landed multiple shots to Weedman’s head, but Weedman dropped Hieron with a left hook and immediately went for the kill. Hieron was on the bottom but stayed calm and after several seconds Hieron worked to the cage, flipped Weedman over, and locked in a D’arce Choke. It was tight and all he had to do was set his hips. He let it go to press Weedman down on his back but it cost him. Hieron went for another D’arce Choke but couldn’t get it and had to settle for controlling Weedman on the mat till the round ended.
The second round began the same, with Hieron staying on his toes and Weedman coming forward somewhat flat footed. “The Thoroughbred” threw more strikes in this round and was landing most of his punches. Weedman seemed to be fading; his hands were tight against his body but it wasn’t protecting him from Hieron’s strikes. Hieron continued to pepper Weedman with strikes as his opponent heaved haymakers at him. Hieron continued to control the majority of the round with his crisp stand-up but picked up a cut from one of Weedman’s counters in the process. Hieron was in obvious control of the fight but there was no quit in Weedman.
The final round began and Hieron and Weedman picked up where they left off. Weedman was coming in more aggressive and after several exchanges Hieron was forced to take Weedman down. However, the move back fired and Weedman caught a choke. Hieron scrambled to get away and eventually got to his feet again but he ate a knee on the way out. Hieron’s leg seemed battered from being the recipient of multiple kicks and the cut on his left eye was bleeding. Hieron hurt Weedman with an off-the-cage superman punch but didn’t go in for the kill and it started to become obvious that Hieron was running low on gas. The two exchange a few strikes before Weedman tripped Hieron and took his back. Hieron attempted to roll out but Weedman got the full mount briefly before Hieron escaped to full guard, and with only 30 seconds left, the exhausted Hieron just needed to survive. The bulk of the action was in the first round while the second and third rounds were somewhat lackluster, but both men showed true grit in the 15-minute affair and earned the crowd’s approval. All three judges scored the bout for Jay Hieron 29-28. It was a hard fight to score but Hieron won it with his more efficient striking.
Ben Askren vs. Nick Thompson: Askren opened the main event with a spinning back fist and several flashy kicks but fell on his butt without landing anything. Thompson followed him to the mat in a move that was less than wise as Askren rolled to a dominant position almost immediately. Thompson stayed active but Askren’s wrestling is world class and “The Goat” couldn’t escape. Askren throws baby elbows to keep the fight on the mat where he wants it and periodically postures up with the sole intent of appearing active enough to avoid a stand-up. The dance continued until the end of the round with Askren doing what he is known for: controlling position to score points. It was a clear round for the champion.
The second round began with Askren staying on the feet for several seconds before taking it back to the mat. Askren shrimped his way to a comfortable position and sat inactively on top of Thompson as “The Goat” went for leg locks until Askren got the full mount off the attempts. Askren took Thompson’s back and went for a choke but didn’t get it and he returned to his feet only to shoot in for yet another takedown. Askren and Thompson fought for dominant position off of the sprawl, but Askren got to side mount and went back to his bread and butter. The champ then again laid on Thompson with little or no offense until the rounds end.
In the third, Askren stayed on the feet but Thompson used his jab to keep the far less skilled striker Askren at bay until he finally shot for the takedown and returned to his control-based point wrestling game. Thompson went for a Triangle Choke but Askren stepped over and got back into his comfort zone, sitting low and heavy in side mount. Askren had been in top position for almost the entire fight, laying on Thompson and staying largely inactive, and the fans had enough by the mid point of the third. The crowd was booing and showed no love for the champion as he laid in wait for a decision win. In the last 20 seconds, Thompson managed to scramble onto the top of Askren’s turtle and launch a last ditch assault but Askren covered up for the reminder of the fight. The bell called the fight to an end and Askren took a decision win. He then proceeded to show the booing crowd his contempt as he mocked Jay Hieron and Rick Hawn (11-0) in his post-fight interview.
For the full list of Bellator 40 results, click here.