Bellator kicks off Season 4 on March 5th from Leemore, California and live on MTV2, with the four quarterfinal matchups in the stacked welterweight tournament.
The winner will take home the $100,000 grand prize and earn a welterweight title fight against undefeated champion Ben Askren.
Askren won the Season 3 tournament and went on to defeat previously unbeaten Lyman Good to win the title.
“Judo” Jim Wallhead (20-5) vs. Rick Hawn (9-0)
In a battle of judo practitioners, the veteran Englishman Wallhead will take on the American Olympian judoka, Hawn.
Wallhead is riding a nine-fight winning streak and is 1-0 in Bellator (decisions win over Ryan Thomas this past October).
Hawn, who is actually eight years the elder of Wallhead but did not make his MMA debut until he was 32-years-old, is unquestionably the higher level judoka in this fight, but is far less experienced in the cage.
Undefeated at 9-0, he holds a victory over UFC veteran Shonie Carter and is 1-0 in Bellator (a dominant KO victory over LeVon Maynard).
Steve Carl (14-2) vs. Jay Hieron (19-4)
Hieron, the big free-agent signing during the Bellator “offseason,” has not lost a fight since 2007 and has beaten name fighters Jason High, Jesse Taylor and Joe Riggs in his last three fights.
He would have to be considered one of the favorites to win the tournament, along with Dan Hornbuckle and Lyman Good.
He is the most experienced fighter in the field, as along with his wins over High, Taylor and Riggs, he has also faced the likes of Georges St. Pierre, Jake Ellenberger, Jonathan Goulet and Brad Blackburn.
Carl comes in at an impressive 14-2 (2-1 Bellator), but has not faced the same level of competition of the well traveled Hieron, who is a veteran of UFC, Strikeforce, IFL and Affliction.
Karl will be a heavy underdog.
Dan Hornbuckle (22-3) vs. Brent Weedman (17-5-1)
This is the only rematch set for the quarterfinals, as Hornbuckle holds a 2006 victory over Weedman.
Hornbuckle lost to Askren in last season’s welterweight final and holds impressive wins over top-level fighters like Akihiro Gono, Nick Thompson and Brad Blackburn.
With his kickboxing background, long reach and American Top Team pedigree, he will be one of the favorites to win the tournament.
Weedman is 3-0 in Bellator and finally gets his chance to prove himself in a tournament, but getting past Hornbuckle won’t be easy.
Lyman Good (10-1) vs. Chris Lozano (6-0)
Good, the first Bellator welterweight champion, would love another crack at Askren, who dominated him on the ground to earn a five-round decision to both take his title and hand him his first ever loss.
To do so, he needs to get through Lozano, a 6-0 prospect who has stopped all six of his opponents.
This should be a good stand-up test for both men, who both figure to keep it standing until someone gets knocked out.
It is unclear at this point which pairings would meet in the semifinals, as Bellator does not use a set ladder bracket.
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