Bellator’s welterweight title fight between champion Ben Askren and season four tournament winner Jay Hieron is set as both fighters made weight today for tomorrow’s fight. Also on the card, the heavyweight tournament continues with the semifinals.
Hieron represents the stiffest challenge yet for the champion. While Hieron is a very good wrestler, he often assumes a more evasive style when he faces a better grappler. This could force Askren to show what progress he has made with trainer Dick Roufus in the striking game. When the fight hits the ground, expect Askren to look to advance immediately as he usually does. Hieron does have a decent ground game however, so Askren cannot get sloppy on the ground. The two key factors in this fight will be Askren’s progress as a striker and his ability to recover when he gets aggressive on the ground.
The first match-up pits Bellator veteran Neil Grove facing Thiago Santos. Both fighters are the respective late replacements for Mike Hayes and Blagoi Ivanov, who both had to back out due to injury. This fight will likely be decided by where it takes place more than anything, with Grove being the better striker while Santos is the better grappler.
The second semifinal features two fighters who look like they should be competing for the title of “world’s strongest man” rather than Bellator tournament champion. That’s not a knock on either fighter however as both can put on a show. Ron Sparks has gotten out of the first time once in his undefeated career with most of his wins coming by TKO. Eric Prindle is a former US Army boxer, whose massive size, boxing skills, and developing ground game make him a formidable match-up for any opponent. A second round will be unlikely in this one.
Bellator 56 takes place in Kansas City, Kansas and will air on MTV2 at 9pm EST/PST. While the main card only has three fights planned, that time will likely be filled by details of the recent change in ownership or a fight from the preliminary card. The preliminary card will be aired live on Spike.com.
MAIN CARD (MTV2)
- Welterweight Title Fight – Ben Askren (c) (169.6) vs. Jay Hieron (169.8)
- Heavyweight Semifinal – Neil Grove (264.6) vs. Thiago Santos (264.6)
- Heavyweight Semifinal – Eric Prindle (264.2) vs. Ron Sparks (264.4)
PRELIMINARY CARD (Spike.com)
- Daniel Gallemore (247) vs. Derrick Ruffin (242.6)
- Rudy Bears (169.6) vs. Marcio Navarro (169.8)
- Adam Schindler (145.8) vs. Jeremy Spoon (145.4)
- Dan Spohn (205.6) vs. Kelvin Tiller (206.4)
- Emanuel “E.J.” Brooks (157) vs. William de Souza (155.8)
- Jacob Aiken (131.4) vs. Jeimeson Saudino (136.8)
- Aaron Ely (140.4) vs. Owen Evinger (135)