Bellator 78’s Lyman Good calls current champ Askren ‘a gatekeeper for the belt’
Like most opponents in his position, Bellator’s inaugural welterweight champ Lyman Good found himself smothered by Ben Askren.
Good ceded his belt to the standout wrestler two years ago and has since worked to shore up his weaknesses in grappling.
Now, he’s confident a second meeting would go much differently, and he’s working to make a rematch a reality with a win over Michail Tsarev in the semifinals of Bellator’s season 7 tournament, which takes place Friday at Bellator 78.
“Askren is like the gatekeeper for the belt,” Good said.
Good (13-2 MMA, 6-2 BFC) and Tsarev (24-2 MMA, 1-0 BFC) meet on the MTV2-televised main card of the event, which takes place at Nutter Center in Fairfield, Ohio. Preliminary-card fights stream on Spike.com.
Good stumbled in his first try at a rematch with Askren, losing by split decision to Season 4 finalist Rick Hawn. Now back in his third Bellator tournament, he started on the right foot with a dominant decision over Brit Jim Wallhead in the opening round of this season’s competition.
Since the setback to Askren, he’s obsessed over the loss to the outspoken champion, watching the fight so many times that he memorized its commentary.
“More importantly, I’ve watched it enough to get what I needed to learn from it,” Good said. “I’ve learned and gained from my fight against Ben Askren. It was a blessing in disguise and a process that helped me to become a better fighter.”
Askren, meanwhile, has continued to dominate the Bellator field, twice defending his welterweight title against the likes of Jay Hieron and Douglas Lima. While acknowledging his skill set to be rudimentary, the champ said he felt no pressure to change his style despite diligent work to improve his standup skills.
For Good, sharpened grappling chops should come in handy against Tsarev, who was less than transparent about his desire to smother opponent Tim Welch in the opening round of the tournament. After multiple submission attempts, he got Welch’s back and secured a rear-naked choke.
Good can’t compete with Askren when it comes to mat accolades, but he isn’t worried that another smothering is in store against the Russian.
“Avoiding ground game is not my priority in this fight,” he said. “It just enhances my ability to win. My only goal is to win. But with given opportunity, this fight will end early. Michail probably plans on submitting me, and I’m planning on knocking him out.”
With a win on Friday, Good takes one step closer to a rematch with Askren, who is next scheduled to fight Season 6 tourney winner Karl Amoussou.
“It’s not about the revenge, it’s about regaining opportunity again,” Good said. “Askren is just the one who happens to be standing in the way.”