Bellator today announced that 2008 U.S. Olympic wrestler Ben Askren has signed an “exclusive, long-term” contract with the promotion, and will compete in Bellator’s welterweight division when their second season kicks off on April 8.
Askren (3-0), a two-time NCAA champion and four-time All-American at the University of Missiouri, made his MMA debut in February with a first-round knockout and has since won back-to-back fights by first-round submission to improve to 3-0. Askren, a member of Arizona Combat Sports who has also reportedly trained at American Top Team and American Kickboxing Academy, is regarded as one of the sport’s top prospects and was believed to be headed to Strikeforce before his deal with Bellator was announced.
Bellator’s first 12-week season ran from April through June and was aired on ESPN Deportes on tape-delay. Following tournaments in the featherweight, lightweight, welterweight, and middleweight divisions, Joe Soto, Eddie Alvarez, Lyman Good, and Hector Lombard were crowned the promotion’s champions. The promotion’s second season will air live on Fox Sports Net, followed by highlight shows on NBC.