Bellator Fighting Championships today confirmed former U.S. Judoka Olympian and fast-rising MMA star Rick Hawn as a participant in Bellator’s upcoming Welterweight Tournament airing on MTV2 starting in March. The explosive Hawn burst onto the Bellator scene with an impressive first round knockout of LeVon Maynard at Bellator 33 which was set up with a spectacular Judo throw. Hawn will look to keep that momentum going when enters the Bellator Season 4 Welterweight Tournament for a shot at current 170 lbs. Bellator Champion Ben Askren.
Managed by American Judoka legend and former coach Jimmy Pedro, Hawn has amassed a collection of almost two dozen medals in major U.S. and international events, including a 9th place finish in the 2004 Olympic games. Hawn has since made a seamless transition from the mat to the cage, compiling a perfect 9-0 professional MMA record with 7 KOs to his credit.
According to Hawn, Bellator’s unique tournament format will not be that far of a departure from his Olympic roots, stating, “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.”
“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. “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.”
A former Olympian himself in freestyle wrestling, Askren captured the Welterweight crown with a unanimous decision victory over then champion Lyman “Cyborg” Good in Season 3.
Entering a tournament stacked with talent, Hawn understands that he must take things one fight at a time, but admits a chance to fight a fellow Olympian is one he looks forward to.
“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.”