by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
Bellator Fighting Championships announced the final pairings for their upcoming welterweight tournament that will kick off on April 15.

In the first fight in the tournament, NCAA wrestling champion Ben Askren will make his promotional debut with Bellator and take on former UFC fighter, Ryan Thomas.

The remaining three fights in the tournament’s first round will take place a week later on April 22nd.

Dan Hornbuckle, one of the leading favorites for the tournament title, will face off against Canadian fighter, Sean Pierson.

Undefeated Arizona Combat Sports prospect, Jacob “Tick-Tock” McClintock draws tough British fighter Jim Wallhead, while former Affliction fighter Brett Cooper gets a first round match-up against Steve Carl.

The fights for Bellator will be available on Fox Sports Net in the U.S., and the April 15 show will be held at the Chicago Theatre in Chicago, IL. No official word from Bellator about the April 22 event, but they are expected to announce the venue for that event in the coming days.