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Bellator 19: About the format, predictions

Bellator, latin for ‘warrior’, is the name of the nationally-based MMA promotion making a visit to the Dallas-Fort Worth area on the evening of May 20. They differ from the UFC and Strikeforce in that they have implemented a tournament-style system for their fight cards that fans can follow for an entire "season."

Currently in season two, the organization is focusing on four weight divisions -- Featherweight, Lightweight, Welterweight, and Middleweight. The season which started in April, showcases events each week in different cities as fighters progress through the tournament with the finals occurring at the end of June.

Bellator 19 will take place in Grand Prairie and serve as the semi-finals for the welterweight division.

Former Olympian Ben Askren will face Ryan Thomas. And Dan Hornbuckle, tagged as the favorite by many, takes on a member of the U.S. Army in Steve Carl.

Thomas originally faced Askren at Bellator 14 when they participated in the welterweight quarterfinals. The bout ended in a controversial manner when the ref stopped the fight prematurely. Although Askren had Thomas in a very solid anaconda choke, Thomas was not unconscious and did not tap. Luckily for Thomas he was able to step in for another quarter finalist, Jim Wallhead, who was unable to make the trip due to air restrictions caused by the volcanic ash cloud floating in from Iceland. Thomas then beat Jacob McClintock in his second quarterfinal opportunity, to set up another showdown with Askren. Since then, both fighters have had anything but nice things to say about each other. Suffice it to say, both guys won’t need much motivation in the cage.

Hornbuckle versus Carl will be an entertaining bout as well, but for altogether different reasons. Both guys fight at a very fast and dynamic pace, and I would expect this bout to be the most exciting of the night.

Carl, 10-1 in his MMA career, is one of those fighters that does not have an off switch. He continues to pressure his opponent with superior strength and conditioning until an opening allows for him to end the fight. Four of his last five wins ended via submission, so fans should expected an exciting end to the bout if he gets the win. The 25-year-old Carl is a member of the U.S. Army and has previously served in Iraq.

Hornbuckle on the other hand is considered, even by Bellator’s CEO Bjorn Rebney, the “one to beat” in the tournament.

“The only division of the four where we felt that there was a favorite was at welterweight, in Dan Hornbuckle,” Bjorn said. ‘He’s a huge talent. A world class talent.”

Hornbuckle is 20-2 and is currently on a five-fight win streak.

Other Fights To Watch:

Soto vs. Saraiva: Soto is last year’s featherweight tournament winner and Diego Saraiva is a dangerous veteran on a six-fight winning streak. This will be a huge test for Soto, the featherweight champ.

Pineda vs. Skelly: The stakes are high for DFW fighter, Chas Skelly. Bellator indicates that if he wins, “he could be offered a potential promotional agreement for our season four featherweight tournament”. It’s a must win situation for Skelly, who faces Daniel Pineda whom he previously beat last year at SWC 8.

Bedford vs. Lopez: If Johnny Bedford, from Fort Worth, wants a shot at beating the best bantamweights in the world, he’ll first have to get by Jared Lopez who fights out of Amarillo. According to Bellator, with a win, Bedford “would be added to our list of alternates for the season three bantamweight tournament.”

Barrett vs. Lee: A win by either heavyweight could land them on the heavyweight tournament bracket for an upcoming season.

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. The first fight is at 5:30pm and the televised card starts at 7pm.

Fight Picks:

Main card

  • Non-title superfight -- Joe Soto vs. Diego Saraiva: Soto wins via decision.

  • Welterweight semifinal -- Ben Askren vs. Ryan Thomas: Askren chokes out Thomas for the win and advances to the finals.

  • Welterweight semifinal -- Dan Hornbuckle vs. Steve Carl: Hornbuckle wins via submission and advances to the finals.

Preliminary Card

  • Aaron Wise vs. Douglas Frey: Frey wins via first round TKO.

  • Donyiell Winrow vs. Josh Smith: Smith wins via first round TKO.

  • Jared Lopez vs. Johnny Bedford: Bedford wins via second TKO.

  • Brandon McDowell vs. Joe Christopher: Christopher wins via a close decision.

  • Daniel Pineda vs. Chas Skelly: Skelly wins via second round submission.

  • Scott Barrett vs. Ty Lee: Lee wins via first round TKO.