Bellator Fighting Championships on Saturday announced that undefeated welterweight champion Ben Askren will put his title on the line against Season 4 tournament winner Jay Hieron on Oct. 29 at Bellator 56 at the Memorial Hall in Kansas City. Bellator 56 will also host the Season 5 Heavyweight Tournament semifinals.
A 2008 U.S. Olympian, Askren will put his title on the line for the first time since capturing the crown at Bellator 33 over then champion Lyman Good. While the fight may be the toughest test of his young MMA career, the University of Missouri product and two-time NCAA Division I national wrestling champion should feel right at home fighting in Kansas City.
“It’s an unreal feeling knowing I’ll be fighting so close to Mizzou,” said Askren. “It won’t affect me during the fight, I could beat Jay in his living room, but to be able to celebrate with all my friends and family after the win is going to awesome.”
Askren and Hieron have made no secret that this fight will be a grudge match of sorts as both competitors have used social media to display their dislike for one another. While both fighters certainly respect each other’s accomplishments, contrasting styles and personalities have added another level of intrigue to an already highly anticipated fight.
“I’ve been looking forward to this fight for a while,” Askren said. “I’m more excited to dominate Jay than anyone I have ever fought, so Oct. 29 can’t get here fast enough. We’re going to put on a show.”
For Hieron, the UFC veteran and Las Vegas-trained fighter is looking to extend his winning streak to 11 with a championship victory over Askren. “The Thoroughbred” earned his title shot by claiming the Season 4 welterweight tournament with victories over Anthony Lapsley, Brent Weedman, and former judoka Olympian Rick Hawn. While the New York native fully understands the Midwest crowd will mostly be in Askren’s corner, that doesn’t bother the confident Hieron.
“I’ve been getting ready for this fight for months, so location doesn’t matter,” said Hieron. “I’ve got one goal in mind, and that’s punching this guy in the face and taking his belt. We all know the game he is going to bring to the cage, and everyone knows mine, so it’s going to be a war, simple as that.”
“I’ve been waiting for this fight for some time now,” Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney said. “These are two great welterweights – both are world-class athletes and neither of them like each other. Ben and Jay have been going back and forth on Twitter; and when that cage door shuts, they will have a chance to settle it.”
Bellator 56 will also feature the semifinals of Season 5 Heavyweight Tournament.
Bellator 56 will air live on MTV2 and in commercial-free HD on EPIX beginning at 9 p.m. ET. Tickets for the event can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com and at the Memorial Hall Box Office.