The winner of the eight-man field will earn $100,000 and the right to challenge the Bellator’s current welterweight champion, Ben Askren. Also rumored to include Bellator’s first 205-pound tournament, season four will mark Bellator’s debut on its new television home, MTV2, with whom the promotion announced a three-year partnership in December.
At the close of season 3, Bellator had confirmed six participants for the 170-pound bracket: Hornbuckle, Steve Carl, Brent Weedman, Chris Lozano, Jim Wallhead and Rick Hawn. In November, the promotion announced the addition of welterweight veteran Jay Hieron to the lineup. Former champion Lyman Good, who lost his title to Askren last October, was also mentioned as a potential participant by Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney.
Asked about the status of those competitors on Monday, a Bellator spokesperson told Sherdog.com only that “final announcements are forthcoming for each of the fighters in the upcoming welterweight tournament.”
A five-year veteran of the sport, Hornbuckle had a breakout year in 2009, when he crushed Akihiro Gono and Nick Thompson in consecutive bouts under the Sengoku banner in Japan. After signing with Bellator, “The Handler” reeled off back-to-back first-round submission wins against Tyler Stinson and Carl to advance to the finals of the second-season welterweight tournament.
Hornbuckle would lose a lopsided three-rounder to Askren in the June 2010 tournament final, but bounced back two months later with a decision win over UFC veteran Brad Blackburn. Hornbuckle had been tapped to face Ryo Chonan at Sengoku “Soul of Fight” in Tokyo on Dec. 30, but was forced from the bout due to influenza.