In his first appearance since winning a close split decision over Jay Hieron last October, Welterweight Champion Ben Askren returns to the cage Friday against last year’s tournament winner Douglas Lima at Bellator 64.
The undefeated Askren (9-0) will have his hands full with Lima (21-4), who rides into the bout on a nine fight win streak armed with TKO finishes in three of his last four.
At just 24, he is three years Askren’s junior but has nearly three times the experience. Askren has gone the distance in five straight and will look for the second successful defense of his gold.
On the main card, the bantamweight tournament kicks off with Travis Marx vs. Masakatsu Ueda and Rodrigo Lima vs. Hiroshi Nakamura — all making their Bellator debut in a pair of interesting tangles.
Marx (18-3) has won three in a row, but has a tough draw on his hands with Ueda (15-1-2), a winner in five straight. The undefeated Lima (10-0) faces Nakamura (14-5-4), a DEEP veteran with victories in five of his last six.
In addition, the first featherweight semifinal is scheduled with Marlon Sandro (21-3) vs. Alexandre Bezerra (13-1). Bezerra submitted Kenny Foster in the second round on the March 9th season debut, while Sandro submitted Roberto Vargas in the first round on the same show.
Bellator’s Reality Show?
The promotion released news Tuesday that The Amazing Race producer and eight-time Emmy winner Bertram van Munster will put together a one-hour MMA reality series to debut on Spike in 2013. There will be no details released until later this year. It’s safe to assume that Spike won’t look for a redux of The Ultimate Fighter, but this has to be viewed as a positive for Bellator. Hey, it can’t be any worse than Repo Games, right?
Numbers for Bellator’s fourth event of the season came out Tuesday with 140,000 tuning in on MTV2 to watch the opening fights of the welterweight tournament. That was down from the season high of 175,000 the week before, but above the paltry 108,000 that watched the season’s second event.
With both Bellator and UFC struggling with Friday night ratings, here’s hoping both figure out that Friday nights aren’t great for televised MMA.
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