Sherdog.com will report from the First Council Casino in Newkirk, Okla., at approximately 8:00 p.m. ET with play-by-play and live results of Bellator 43, which is headlined by the fourth-season welterweight tournament final between Jay Hieron and Rick Hawn.
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Kevin Nix is the referee for the first fight of the evening here in Newkirk. Osborn is taken down straight away and Schatz transitions into side control, landing blows from the top. The local product Osborn pushes Schatz into the cage, uses dirty boxing to land punches inside, and then lands some knees in the clinch. Now it's Osborn who takes Schatz down. Osborn postures and lands more blows as Schatz turtles up, not offering any offense in return.
Referee Nix has seen enough and stops the fight at 1:58 of the first round.
The fighters rush to the center of the cage, with both Bouphanouvong and Rickels throwing combinations. Bouphanouvong hoists Rickels up and slams him onto the mat on his back, posturing up and landing a quick right to the head as Rickels attempts a triangle from bottom which Bouphanouvong slips out of. Bouphanouvong stays on top and drops a right to the head of Rickels. Rickels attempts another triangle and then transitions, both fighters then quickly stand and posture up. A flurry of punches from Rickels stuns Bouphanouvong and prompts a takedown, where Rickels finds himself on bottom, defending the slow ground-and-pound of Bouphanouvong. With the round closing, Bouphanouvong maintains top control, though
he is tiring. 10-9 Bouphanouvong.
The second stanza begins and "The Caveman" attacks with a quick body kick and a flurry. Staggered, Bouphanouvong takes Rickels down. This time Rickels expertly locks up a deep triangle choke, forcing the tap at of 1:11 the second round. Rickels moves his unbeaten record to 7-0 with the win.
The big men are just slinging leather with ill intentions early. Sparks getting the better of the boxing early on, then gets inside for the clinch and lands a few knees up the gut. A leg kick puts Lucero on the mat and Sparks gives chase, immediately taking side control. He leans from Lucero’s left over to his right, trying to frame up a kimura or keylock. It’s a keylock and “The Monster” wrenches it hard as Lucero grimaces. It’s very tight and Sparks spends a good 15 to 20 seconds trying for the arm lock before finally getting Lucero to tap at the 2:18 mark.
Chase Beebe vs. Jose Vega
Beebe tries for a takedown and manages to plow Vega to the mat after a brief struggle. Beebe works to pass half-guard and even looks for another guillotine, but Vega gets to his feet. He pushes Beebe into the cage, but Beebe goes to the guillotine once more. This time, Beebe drops to his back and it’s very tight. Vega has no choice but to submit at 4:06 of the first round. With the win, Beebe earns a spot in Bellator's fifth-season bantamweight tournament.
Joe Riggs vs. Bryan Baker
Both middleweights feeling it out in the opening minute; a Baker kick to the body of Riggs is one of the few strikes attempted. The larger Baker circles on the outside of the southpaw Riggs. As the fighters finally engage, Riggs catches an inside thigh kick on the cup. He gathers himself quickly and they’re back to work half a minute later. Midway through the round now and, as there’s been very little action, the period’s very much still up for grabs. With 1:40 to go, Baker lunges in and scores with a hard flying knee. He can’t land any follow-up punches, instead eating a counter hook from Riggs. Glancing head kick from Baker sends Riggs into reverse. Baker scores with another flying knee just before the bell.
Rob Fitzpatrick scores the round 10-9 Baker
Chris Nelson scores the round 10-9 Baker
Mike Whitman scores the round 10-9 Baker
Jay Hieron vs. Rick Hawn
Jason Herzog is in charge of this season’s welterweight tournament final. Hawn takes the center of the cage as Hieron stalks outside, whipping leg kicks. Hieron connects with a short left hook as Hawn ducks his head to strike. Spinning back-kick from Hieron pushes Hawn into the fence. Hawn blocks a head kick and then catches a kick on the cup, but he’s good to continue. Hieron landing leg kicks and combos, looking confident as he circles to his right. He leaps in with a flying knee which misses the mark. Hawn continues to walk his man down, but he’s out of range for punches and his kicks aren’t as effective as Hieron’s have been thus far. Nice left hand from Hawn with a minute on the clock. Left high kick slaps Hawn on the chin, but the judoka doesn’t budge. Hieron gives chase with a few combinations to the bell.
Rob Fitzpatrick scores the round 10-9 Hieron
Chris Nelson scores the round 10-9 Hieron
Mike Whitman scores the round 10-9 Hieron
The pattern resumes from the first round: Hawn moving forward while Hieron wheels around, looking for angles to counterstrike. Hawn charges forward with a windmilling combination, one of which clips Hieron, who drops to the mat briefly. It looked like a partial slip, as Hieron’s instantly back up and on his horse. Hawn lands a solid left and blocks a few head kicks, but he’s still having trouble with range against the longer Hieron. Another left hook gets through for Hawn, who’s coming on strong late in the round. Three-piece from Hawn finds the mark, particularly the right uppercut at the end of the sequence. Hieron trips Hawn to the mat at the very end of the round, but Hawn uses underhooks to pop right back up.
Rob Fitzpatrick scores the round 10-9 Hieron
Chris Nelson scores the round 10-9 Hawn
Mike Whitman scores the round 10-10
Hieron is pawing at his own nose early in the final frame. Left hook from Hawn is answered by a spinning back-kick from Hieron, who continues to move backward. Hieron grabs for a single-leg and then immediately relents. Hawn is continuing to put his left hand on the face of Hieron, who’s now rubbing his nose at every spare moment and is looking banged up beneath the left eye. Hawn comes in with a jab; Hieron answers with a one-two and a leg kick. Outside thigh kick from Hawn lands and buckles Hieron’s knee, but the “Thoroughbred” stays up and circling. Just over a minute to go and Hieron misses a spinning kick; Hawn smiles and continues moving forward. Jabs and spinning backfists from Hawn down the stretch. Hieron catches a body kick and lands a few short jabs just before the end, and we’re headed to what will be a very close decision.
Rob Fitzpatrick scores the round 10-9 Hawn (29-28 Hieron)
Chris Nelson scores the round 10-9 Hawn (29-28 Hawn)
Mike Whitman scores the round 10-9 Hawn (29-29 Draw)
Official scores: Judge Jason Greenwalt has it 29-28 in favor of Rick Hawn. However, judges Jim Lambert and Gary Ritter both have it 29-28 for Jay Hieron, the winner by split decision and Bellator Season 4 welterweight tournament winner. With the win, Hieron earns a title shot at reigning 170-pound champion Ben Askren.