Ben Askren Sets Stage for Rematch with Ryan Thomas at Bellator XIX

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Ben Askren Sets Stage for Rematch with Ryan Thomas at Bellator XIX

The ongoing war of words between Bellator Welterweight Tournament semifinalists Ben Askren and Ryan Thomas continued on Monday with Askren predicting that their much-anticipated rematch this Thursday night at Bellator 19 will end the same way as their first meeting—albeit in much more decisive fashion.

“I’m going to do the same thing I did the last time. I’m going to go in there and choke him,” said Askren, the 25-year-old former NCAA all-American and U.S. Olympian. “Only this time I’m gonna put him to sleep all the way so he can’t complain about it.”

Askren vs. Thomas II is part of a nine-fight card at Bellator 19, which will broadcast live on FOX Sports Net from the Verizon Theater in Grand Prairie, Texas (just outside Dallas). Highlights from the show will also air this weekend on NBC, Telemundo, and the cable network mun2.

Also scheduled is the second Welterweight Tournament semifinal—Dan Hornbuckle vs. Steve Carl—and a non-title “super fight” between reigning Bellator featherweight champion Joe Soto and UFC veteran Diego Saraiva.

But thanks in part to the bad blood that has developed between Askren and Thomas, their fight is suddenly emerging as the night’s most intriguing bout.

The two first met at Bellator 14 in Chicago on April 15 during the quarterfinal round of the Welterweight Tournament. Roughly 2:30 into Round One, Askren locked Thomas into a tight anaconda choke.

After a few seconds, the cage referee stopped the fight, much to the dismay of Thomas and his corner, who protested that Thomas gave no indication that he wanted the fight stopped.

“It was a bad call by the referee,” Thomas, a 12-4 veteran of the UFC, said afterwards. “I was fine…I was totally fine.”

In his remarks Monday, Askren criticized Thomas’ handling of the entire situation.

“I think he’s been really immature about the whole thing from day one,” Askren said. “I’ve just tried to go about my own business and prepare for the fight, and he’s been out talking [trash] on the message boards. That’s the kind of thing I might have done when I was 16 years old—not a grown man. It’s all pretty childish if you ask me.”

Childish or otherwise, Ryan Thomas will get his rematch. Perhaps the old saying, "be careful what you wish for," takes center stage in this fight.

Askren was the dominant grappler throughout the contest, and the Olympian wouldn't seem to have any added problem with the "childish" Thomas' ground game heading into their showdown. If Thomas is going to win this fight, it's going to be with his striking—which battered tournament dark horse Jacob McClintock.

It'll be extremely interesting to see if Thomas will be willing to fore sake his strengths to utilize his weaker stand-up skills, or if he decides to die by the sword.

For more information, visit www.Bellator.com, follow Bellator on Twitter at @BellatorMMA , or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Bellator.

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