The welterweight semifinals for Bellator will kick off at Bellator 19 when Steve Carl (10-1) takes on Dan “The Handler” Hornbuckle (20-2) and Ryan Thomas (11-4) will take on former Olympian Ben Askren (4-0) in a rematch.
Bellator 19 will take place at the Verizon Theatre in Grand Prairie, Texas and in the main event Bellator featherweight champion Joe Soto will take on Diego Saraiva in a non-title “super fight”.
Steve Carl advanced to the semifinals after winning a somewhat controversial split decision over Brett Cooper at Bellator Fighting Championships 15. In the fight Carl showed strong takedowns and the ability to weather the storm against the tough Cooper.
Dan “The Handler” Hornbuckle quickly dispatched late replacement Tyler Stinson at Bellator 15, and submitted Stinson via triangle choke. The fight with Stinson displayed the diversity of Hornbuckle’s game and showed that he isn’t just a powerful striker.
Ryan Thomas originally met Ben Askren and lost via a controversial ref stoppage in the midst of a guillotine choke. The future of Thomas in Bellator looked grim until British fighter “Judo” Jim Wallhead had to pull out due to the volcanic ash stopping him from traveling to America. Thomas made short work of Jacob McClintock and earned himself a rematch against the former Olympian Askren.