Already rumored for a bout on March 5 at the first event of Season 4, Jay Hieron and Steve Carl were officially added to the field competing for an opportunity to face Bellator welterweight champ Ben Askren. The two 170-pounders were announced in separate press releases from the company and are the final parts of a tournament group composed of Jim Wallhead, Dan Hornbuckle, Rick Hawn, Chris Lozano, Brent Weedman, and of course former title-holder Lyman Good.
“Jay’s the perfect fighter to round out our stacked welterweight tournament,” explained Bellator’s chief executive Bjorn Rebney. “He’s a true mixed martial artist who has very few weaknesses and a ton of strengths inside the cage. Jay will be a tremendous test for anyone and everyone in this talent rich tournament.”
Meanwhile, on the subject of Carl, Rebney alluded to the Army veteran’s past performances in Bellator, as well as his recovery from a potentially career-ending accident in 2006, saying, “(Steve) has been on an incredible journey, and I’m very happy to see him compete in this stacked tournament. He has been a tremendous competitor throughout his fights in Bellator, and I expect him to take his game to the next level in this tournament.”
Both welterweights expressed equal excitement about their involvement this season with Carl explaining the talent as “phenomenal” and “off the charts”, while Hieron elaborated on why he chose Bellator after racking up nine wins in his last ten fights yet still being released by Strikeforce.
“This is the exact type of situation I wanted to be in right now. With the tournament format, there’s no politics, no golden boys, and nobody getting protected – there’s none of that. If you win you move forward, and that’s that. That’s the bottom line and that’s exactly what I was looking for.”
PHOTO CREDIT – BELLATOR