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Bellator 43 Fight Card Preview

The Bellator Fighting Championships will wrap up their Season Four Welterweight tournament this weekend at Bellator 43 in Newkirk, Oklahoma.

Jay Hieron will be the favorite to earn a shot at Ben Askren’s Bellator Welterweight title some time later in the year, but he first has to get past the undefeated Rick Hawn.

Hawn is considered a world-class judo black belt who has an 11-fight win streak on the line this weekend. His last fight was a close split-decision win over Lyman Good, where his judo skills were not utilized like we’ve seen in the past. Oddsmakers have made him a slight underdog against Hieron, and the best price on the Hawn upset is a +145 line at Bovada.

We prefer the -150 line at Bovada on the Jay Hieron. He’s on a nine-fight win streak of his own and has looked very good in his two tournament fights. He’s an accomplished wrestler, and as long as he stays out of the clinch he should be able to out-box Hawn for a decision win.

At -150 he looks like a bargain to win the Bellator Welterweight tournament final.

Since leaving the UFC Joe Riggs has kept his career alive by beating some of the best talent that the Strikeforce Welterweight and Middleweight divisions have on contract. Now he makes his Bellator debut against a well-rounded Bryan Baker. Riggs’ best days in the cage are behind him, and oddsmakers at Bovada will pay as much as +240 on a Riggs upset.

Baker is coming off a decision win over Jeremy Horn and has only one loss in his last nine fights. We expect the 25-year-old Baker to be too much for the aging Riggs and think he will finish him by KO or submission at some point in the second round. Baker will be a bit expensive at a -250 price at 5Dimes, but he’s probably the safest money on the Bellator 43 fight card.

We will also get the first Bellator look at former WEC Bantamweight champion Chase Beebe on the fight card. Beebe is coming off three straight wins and will be looking to solidify a permanent spot with the Bellator Fighting Championships with a win over Jose Vega. Oddsmakers at Bovada have the cheapest line on the favorite Beebe at -325.

Vega is coming off a decision loss to Ed West and hasn’t been able to string together a streak of victories since 2009. He’s a big underdog at 5Dimes at +280, but that’s not a bet we’d make this weekend. Look for Beebe to have an easy time against Vega.