Ben Askren is evolving.
On a night that many expected Askren's smothering top position and submissions to do Karl Amoussou in, it was Askren's new ground-and-pound that put away the Frenchman in his latest Bellator welterweight title defense in the main event of Bellator 86 on Thursday night at the Winstar World Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma.
Prior to the bout, Askren predicted a finish and he delivered. It was his second stoppage under the Bellator banner and his first since he submitted Ryan Thomas in his promotional debut back in April 2010.
Bellator's coming out party on Spike's airwaves resumes tonight with Bellator 86, emanating from the WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma and headlined by a welterweight world title tilt between champion Ben Askren and challenger Karl Amoussou.
The return of Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal tops the undercard which will complete the light heavyweight tournament quarterfinals and kick off the welterweight pairings as well. The main card festivities begin at 10 PM ET on Spike. You can also watch all of the preliminary bouts starting at 8 PM ET right here on MMA on Tap.
After the jump, check out five things that you should watch for during tonight's telecast.
The Daily Recap is a collection of news and notes from around the web that will be posted at the end of each day. Bout signings, injury news and much more can all be found here.
Two-time UFC middleweight title challenger Chael Sonnen made a bombshell announcement on tonight's episode of "UFC Tonight" on FUEL TV, revealing that he'll be making an expected move up to the light heavyweight division and will face former champ Forrest Griffin at the UFC's year-end show on December 29.
In talking about the matchup, Sonnen praised Griffin for his achievements inside the cage and stated that he felt that he was underlooked. He also went on about current champion Jon Jones and the fact that he would be able to steal his title like "halloween candy". (Update - Video of Sonnen's announcement is after the jump.)
Sonnen and Griffin met once before at IFC's talent-stacked light heavyweight tournament at their "Global Domination" event in September 2003. Griffin submitted Sonnen with a triangle choke in the quarterfinals of an eight-man tournament that night. Not much of a surprise there.
The bout will be Sonnen's first at 205 lbs since he fell to Renato "Babalu" Sobral all the way back at UFC 55 almost seven years ago. Griffin is coming off of a unanimous decision over Tito Ortiz last month in a rubber match between the two.
DREAM welterweight champion Marius Zaromskis and King of the Cage veteran Waachiim Spiritwolf will reportedly fight for the second time at Bellator 68, which is scheduled for the Palladium Ballroom at Caesars in Atlantic City, New Jersey on May 11.
The news comes from MMA Junkie, citing sources close to the event. Bellator 68 will likely feature the semifinals of the promotion's season six welterweight tournament.
Zaromskis and Spiritwolf originally met under the Strikeforce banner in November 2010 with the fight being stopped and ruled a no-contest in just six seconds after Spiritwolf was unable to recover from an accidental poke in the eye.
Since then, Zaromskis has won three out of his last four fights, his lone loss coming at the hands of then-streaking welterweight prospect Jordan Mein while Spiritwolf has struggled as of late, dropping two out of his last three.
Hideo Tokoro. Photo courtesy of DREAM.
Hideo Tokoro bested fellow submission specialist Masakazu Imanari via unanimous decision to win DREAM's inaugural bantamweight grand prix tournament at the organization's "Fight for Japan: Japan Grand Prix Final" event on Saturday at the Ariake Coliseum in Tokyo, Japan.
A pair of title defenses also took place: Hiroyuki Takaya grinded out a hard-fought split decision win over former Olympic wrestler Kazuyuki Miyata and Gegard Mousasi took out challenger Hiroshi Izumi in quick and impressive fashion, scoring a first round stoppage of the Japanese judoka.
Another notable winners on the card included world-ranked lightweight Tatsuya Kawajiri, DREAM welterweight champion Marius Zaromskis and DREAM bantamweight grand prix third-place winner Kenji Osawa.
Gegard Mousasi. Photo courtesy of DREAM.
All sixteen fighters scheduled to compete at DREAM's "Fight for Japan: Japan Grand Prix Final" event on Saturday successfully made weight yesterday afternoon.
Seasoned veteran Drew Fickett originally came in two pounds over the 154-lb limit for his fight against Tatsuya Kawajiri, but shed the extra weight and hit the required mark a couple of hours later.
The eight-fight card, which will not air live in North America, features a pair of title fights - DREAM light heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi taking on Hiroshi Izumi and featherweight title holder Hiroyuki Takaya returning to face Kazuyuki Miyata - as well as the bantamweight grand prix finals featuring submission specialists Masakazu Imanari and Hideo Tokoro.
Tito Ortiz out of TUF 11 and Liddell fight.
Last week, it was widely reported that something may have happened to Tito Ortiz causing his proposed fight with Chuck Liddell to be called off. Rumor was that Rich Franklin would be stepping into his place. Dana White vehemently denied the rumor, but more signs are pointing to that as being fact.
Recent days have seen Twitter posts from both Tito and his girlfriend Jenna Jameson confirming that Ortiz was in the hospital, posting that it was that it was due to a severe case of the flu. But another recent report on 5 Ounces of Pain suggests that Tito has stepped down due to disk herniations in his neck. Seventeen months ago, Ortiz underwent back surgery on his lumbar (low back) spine to fix herniations there.
Dream’s May card shaping up nicely
Dream’s May 30 show is set to launch the Light Heavyweight Grand Prix. It will feature returning Middleweight Grand Prix winner, Gegard Mousasi, pending the outcome physically from his April 17 matchup in Strikeforce with Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal. Recently signed to compete in the tourney are two fighters whom Mousasi has defeated in Strikeforce, Renato “Babalu” Sobral and Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou.
Also slated to make his return to the Dream ring is Marius Zaromskis, who last saw action in Strikeforce, suffering a TKO defeat at the hands of Nick Diaz.
Lashley on Strikeforce’s April card
Bobby Lashley, now training full-time in MMA, has been added to Strikeforce’s April 17th card on CBS. Strikeforce’s Scott Coker confirmed the news with MMAWeekly but declined to name an opponent pending athletic commission approval. With three title fights headlining the card, the fight is expected to be the swing bout that may or may not make the airwaves pending time available.
Marius Zaromskis. Photo property of DREAM.
Strikeforce has officially announced the signing of DREAM welterweight grand prix champion Marius “Whitemare” Zaromskis to a multi-fight contract. No date was announced for Zaromskis’ Strikeforce debut.
Fighting and Entertainment Group today announced details regarding DREAM.12, which will take place on October 25 at the Osaka Castle Hall in Osaka, Japan. For the first time in the organization’s short history, it will use a six-sided cage.
DREAM also released a promotional video for the event, which features eight of the nine announced participants for the fight card. The video can be seen above.
We will be going live at 3:00 AM EST with live results of DREAM.10, which takes place at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.
The card will be headlined by a lightweight bout between Shinya Aoki and Vitor Riberio. Also on the card is the welterweight tournament semifinals featuring Hayato Sakurai vs. Marius Zaromskis and Andre Galvao vs. Jason High.
Feel free to leave your thoughts and comments throughout the evening. Detailed live results are after the jump.