From a Bellator press release:
CHICAGO, Ill. (February 26, 2010) - With its Season 2 kickoff now less than six weeks away, Bellator Fighting Championships today revealed the Round 1 matchups for its much-anticipated, nationally-televised welterweight tournament.
The four first-round fights will take place as part of Bellator XIV on April 15th and Bellator XV on April 22nd. Bellator XIV will be broadcast live from the historic Chicago Theatre.
The welterweight (170 lbs.) matchups are as follows:
Ben Askren (3-0) vs. Ryan Thomas (10-3)
Dan Hornbuckle (19-2) vs. Sean Pierson (9-4)
Jacob McClintock (6-0) vs. "Judo" Jim Wallhead (18-5)
Steve Carl (12-1) vs. Brett Cooper (12-5)
Seeing Askren make the big step up to a guy like Ryan Thomas will be very interesting. Thomas didn't meet a ton of success in the UFC, going 0-2 in his time there. But he has big stage experience and has been in the cage with very skilled fighters in his career. This is a fight that should provide some good insight into where Askren is in his development.
The April 22nd bouts are all solid as well but Wallhead/McClintock stands out as being a fight that could be the most competitive of the entire first round.
We'll have more information about fights in the other weight classes as they are announced.