Bellator: 5 Fighters Who Can Replace Ben Askren As The Face Of The Welterweight Division
5 Fighters Who Can Replace Ben Askren As The Face Of The Welterweight Division
Love him or hate him, Ben Askren did a lot for Bellator. No one can deny the fact that Askren is a talented fighter. He is a dominate wrestler who stuck to his roots. Unfortunately, that's what ultimately got him released from Bellator, and what could make other organizations hesitant to sign him.
During his three year tenure in Bellator, Askren dominated the opposition and racked up a 9-0 record inside the organization. In four outings, he became the welterweight champion. He successfully defended his title four times (Jay Hieron, Douglas Lima, Karl Amoussou and Andrey Koreshkov).
Hieron was the only individual that came close to beating Askren, but he lost by split-decision. Lima lasted all five rounds in his title bid, but came up short to a unanimous decision. Both Amoussou and Koreshkov were finished before the final bell.
While Askren will end up being signed by either the World Series of Fighting or the UFC, Bellator will be on the search for a new welterweight champion and the new face for the division. In what could be seen as one of the more talented division in Bellator, there are plenty of individuals who could fill that void.
Here are the top five individuals that could become the face of Bellator's welterweight division,
5. Karl Amoussou
One of the more talented fighters in Bellator, Karl Amoussou comes in at No. 5. He is a well-rounded fighter who has a ton of heart. He can submit opponents and knock them out, and he has the potential to be a great fighter.
Unfortunately, he has lost his last two fights (Ben Askren and Paul Bradley). Askren was able to do enough punishment to Amoussou to get the bout stopped, and Bradley won by unanimous decision. Despite losing two fights in a row, that will not prevent him from competing in a future welterweight tournament.
At 28 years old, Amoussou has time to develop, and if he can do so and win the title within the next two years, he could have a shot at winning the title. As for being the face of the division, he has the look of a champion.
4. Joe Riggs
Fresh off his Bellator Fight Master season one victory, Joe Riggs stands in the No. 4 spot.
A man with over 54 fights at 31 years of age, Riggs' body has some wear and tear on it. He has went through several ups and downs throughout his career, with some personal problems along the way. Bellator couldn't have asked for a better fight master winner.
Riggs has the personality suited for a controversial champion. He isn't at the level of the Diaz brothers, but it can almost be certain that Riggs would be an interesting champion for Bellator. A winner in his last six fights, Riggs has momentum. If Bellator decided to put him in a tournament, my money would be on him.
Riggs is a MMA veteran. There isn't much any fighters can throw at him that he hasn't already seen, and that will give him the advantage in most fights. As long as his body holds up, Riggs will eventually get a shot at the title.
With his unique, take no prisoners approach to his fight game, he would be a good face for the division.
3. Ben Saunders
Determination, a strong fight camp and personality is what helps Ben Saunders come in a the No. 3 spot.
Ben Saunders has all the makings of being a great champion for Bellator. He has come up short a few times in the organization, but he seems to always be in the mix when it comes tournament time. He is currently 7-3 inside the Bellator cage, with two of those losses coming at the hands of Douglas Lima.
Lima seems to be the only obstacle standing in the way of Saunders' chances at Bellator gold. If he can crack that case, he may stand a chance at receiving shot at the title. With American Top Team in his corner, Saunders always has a chance to improve his skills. If he does ever win the championship, he will be a fun champion.
With Saunders' personality, it's hard to dislike the guy. He hardly complains when he loses and always seems respectful. He would be a good champion for Bellator.
2. Rick Hawn
Long time Bellator fighter Rick Hawn will be fighting tonight for the Bellator welterweight tournament championship. If he wins, that will give him two tournament titles in two different weight classes. His overall success in Bellator and his exposure to the fans lands him at No. 2.
Hawn is as deserving as anyone in Bellator when it comes to holding a title. He worked his way through the lightweight tournament and won, and he is now is attempting to do the same in the welterweight division. He is a boss.
Hawn knows how to use his skill set. An Olympic judo competitor, Hawn has the ability to take anyone down to the ground. He also has heavy hands, showcased by his 10 KO/TKO victories. He is tailor-made to be an exciting champion inside the cage.
Hawn has been just as dominate in Bellator as Askren was. He has only two loses, and one of those came by split-decision (Jay Hieron). The other loss on his record came at the hands of Michael Chandler, who won by rear-naked choke.
If Hawn makes it past Ron Keslar and wins the title, he possess the skills to be champion for a while. At the age of 37, father time may be Hawn's only true opponent in the years to come.
1. Douglas Lima
Douglas Lima is a scary dude. He has lethal striking abilities and he is only 25 years old. It will be only a matter of time before he is the face of Bellator's welterweight division.
He possess all the qualities needed to be a champion, and he is extremely talented and poised for a 25 year old. If he finds an opening, he exploits it. What's even scarier is the fact he continues to develop and get better with each passing fight.
Lima also has a certain mystique about him that would sit well with fans. He fights excitingly and throws punches and kicks with bad intentions behind them. He has the ability to knock anyone out if he connects with strikes. All of this is why Lima will be the face of the welterweight division.
Since losing to Askren by unanimous decision, Lima has won four fights (Jacob Ortiz, Michail Tsarev, Bryan Baker and Ben Saunders) -- each one ended in a knock out or TKO.
One can just get a sense that there aren't many fighters in Bellator that can neutralize the striking of Lima like Askren did. With Askren gone, there is no one left to stop Lima's ascension to the top of the welterweight division in Bellator.