If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times: Bellator cannot compete with UFC or Strikeforce, but they do an excellent job of grooming prospects. They've announced a non-title superfight between one of their top prospects in former Olympian Ben Askren and well-rounded UFC, Sengoku and Strikeforce veteran Nick Thompson. From Bellator:
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.
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.
This is an excellent fight for both Askren and Thompson. For Askren, he gets an excellent step up in competition. Thompson has experience against opposition with a wide array of skill sets on big stages. He also possesses a good jab, decent guard, suitable cardio conditioning, comes from an excellent camp and is generally well-rounded. However, Thompson has some issues with defensive wrestling, although his size relative to Askren might help a little in that department.
For Thompson, it's a great way to make a statement. Thompson is much closer to the end of his career than the beginning, but he's been a prospect killer before (Eddie Alvarez) and it'd be nice to have this scalp in his collection before his day in professional fighting is done.
A job well done by Bellator in booking this fight.