Ben Askren and Ryan Thomas faced each other at Bellator 14 when they participated in the welterweight quarterfinals. In the first round of that fight, Askren, a former Olympian and Big 12 wrestler, secured an anaconda choke that appeared to cause Thomas to pass out. After a few seconds in that position, the referee stopped the bout. It quickly became apparent that Thomas had not lost consciousness. Since he wasn't out and didn't tap, it was clear that the fight should not have ended at that point. The choke was definitely tight and it is highly likely that Askren, with a couple of extra seconds, could have ended all doubt. Instead, the bout ended in a controversial manner.
"It was a bad call by the referee," Thomas said. "I was fine. ... I was totally fine."
When Jim Wallhead, another welterweight quarterfinalist, was grounded from traveling into the U.S. because of the volcanic ash cloud from Iceland, the organization decided to bring Thomas back into the fold. After defeating Jacob McClintock in his second shot at the quarterfinals, Thomas will yet again face Askren, this time in the semis. The other semifinal matchup will be between Dan Hornbuckle and Steve Carl.
Askren isn't happy with Thomas' recent comments regarding the situation and looks to end all doubt in the rematch.
“I think he’s been really immature about the whole thing from Day 1,” Askren said. “I’ve just tried to go about my own business and prepare for the fight, and he’s been out talking [trash] on the message boards. That’s the kind of thing I might have done when I was 16 years old -- not a grown man. It’s all pretty childish if you ask me.”
“I’m going to do the same thing I did the last time. I’m going to go in there and choke him,” said Askren. “Only this time I’m gonna put him to sleep all the way so he can’t complain about it.”
With bad blood between the fighters evidently present and with a shot at the finals on the line, Askren vs. Thomas II looks to be a barnburner at Bellator 19.
Bellator 19 will be held at the Verizon Theater in Grand Prairie on May 20. The event will be broadcast live on Fox Sports Net.
Main card (subject to change)
Non-title superfight -- Joe Soto vs. Diego Saraiva
Welterweight semifinal -- Ben Askren vs. Ryan Thomas
Welterweight semifinal -- Dan Hornbuckle vs. Steve Carl
Aaron Wise vs. Douglas Frey
Donyiell Winrow vs. Josh Smith
Jared Lopez vs. Johnny Bedford
Brandon McDowell vs. Joe Christopher
Daniel Pineda vs. Chas Skelly
Scott Barrett vs. Ty Lee