CHICAGO, Ill. (February 16, 2011) — Bellator World Welterweight Champion Ben "Funky" Askren returns to the cage for the first time since his impressive title win when he meets dangerous UFC veteran Nick "The Goat" Thompson at Bellator 40, which airs LIVE on MTV2, and takes place April 9th at the First Council Casino in Newkirk, Oklahoma.
"Ben’s been completely dominant in every fight he’s had under the Bellator banner and Nick has run the MMA gauntlet in his career, fighting everywhere and everyone," said Bellator Chairman and CEO Bjorn Rebney. "He will be a fantastic test for Ben."
A 2008 Olympian and 2-time NCAA Division I National Wrestling Champion, Askren has silenced any critics who doubted his ability to transition from collegiate wrestling to MMA since his professional debut just two years ago.
After three straight impressive victories to win the Bellator Season 2 Welterweight Tournament -- including a finals matchup where "Funky" completely dominated highly regarded welterweight Dan "The Handler" Hornbuckle with a non-stop barrage of takedowns and ground-and-pound -- Askren prepared for his toughest test yet, a Championship meeting with Lyman Good at Bellator 33.
The fight ultimately went the distance, spanning five grueling rounds before Askren was awarded a very deserving decision victory and the Bellator World Welterweight Championship.
Still undefeated (7-0) in his quickly developing MMA career, Askren is incredibly confident of his skills, even against a battle tested Thompson.
"I come to fight every single time. Whether you're good or you're bad, I still want to smash you, and it's going to be the same thing when I fight Nick Thompson," Askren said. "It doesn't matter what his record is, I'm looking to kick his ass."
A former Bodog Welterweight Champion, Thompson (38-13-1) enters the fight with more than 50 fights worth of professional experience over the course of his eight-year MMA career, which includes stops with UFC, Strikeforce, and Sengoku. Holding notable victories over current Bellator Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez, top Strikeforce welterweight Paul "Semtex" Daley, and UFC veteran Josh "The Dentist" Neer, "The Goat" is confident his experience will play a significant role during the fight.
"I think the biggest advantage for me in this fight with Ben is the fact that I've fought more than 50 fights," said Thompson. "I've fought in every organization, I've fought against the best fighters in the world, and I've been ranked in the top ten. Ben hasn't been there. I plan on hitting him like he's never been hit before and I'm excited to find out how he's going to react."