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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
Bellator has confirmed the second participant for their season four welterweight tournament, as undefeated Judo Olympian Rick Hawn joins Dan Hornbuckle in the eight man field.
The 9-0 judoka made one appearance for Bellator during season three, and made quite an impression with a slick no-gi shoulder throw, a judo move not often seen pulled off in the cage, followed by punches to LeVon Maynard to finish the fight in the first round. His other notable victory in MMA came last July, when he defeated former UFC veteran Shonie Carter.
"Rick was incredibly impressive in his first fight with Bellator, and is a perfect fit for our Welterweight Tournament," said Bellator Chairman and CEO Bjorn Rebney in today's release. "This tournament is shaping up to be one of our most competitive and talent-rich yet and I can't wait to see who will be facing Ben Askren for our World Championship after all is said and done."
For Hawn, who has competed in Judo for much of his life at a national and world class level, including a ninth place finish for Team USA at the 2004 Olympic Games, the tournament format will be nothing new, and it's something he's looking forward to.
"I'm definitely used to the tournament format due to my background in Judo," said Hawn. "I've been competing in Judo competitions for many years with a very similar structure, so I'm definitely used to it, and I'm looking forward to doing it again."
Should Hawn get past the field, he'd earn a shot at Bellator Welterweight Champion Ben Askren, an Olympic competitor himself. Hawn looks forward to the potentially historic bout between former Olympians.
"I'm looking forward to possibly getting the chance to fight Ben [Askren] for the championship," Hawn said. "He's an Olympian, an incredible athlete, and the next time we see him I'm sure he's going to have improved tremendously. I think a fight between us would be a great clash of styles and I don't think two true Olympians have ever fought in the history of MMA."
Penick's Analysis: Hawn's Bellator debut was extremely exciting, and his record is impressive. But this tournament will likely represent a big step up in competition and experienced competitors overall, so this will be a huge test for him. At 34, he's not one of the young guns in the tournament, but he's got a world class skill level in one discipline and has acclimated himself well to the cage thus far. He could do some damage in this field, and he'll likely be a lot of fun to watch.
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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