Former Olympic wrestler Ben Askren improved his perfect record to 9-0 over the weekend in headlining action at Bellator 56 where he escaped with his title by the skin of his teeth after polished journeyman Jay Hieron gave him a far steeper test than “Funky” had originally predicted.

In fact, Hieron’s showing was so solid it seems the only individuals outside of Askren’s camp who felt he lost were the judges awarding his opponent the Split Decision win.

The outpointing was Askren’s fifth in a row including success against Dan Hornbuckle, Lyman Good, and Nick Thompson. Comparably, the defeat ended a double-digit winning streak for Hieron and was his first since June 2007.

Bellator 56 also featured the semifinal round of the promotion’s ongoing heavyweight tournament where less than 90 seconds were needed to determine the two men who will compete for $100,000 and the right to face champion Cole Konrad. Moving on were Thiago Santos, who choked out Neil Grove after dropping him early, and Eric Prindle, who had a “Knockout of the Year” candidate after flooring opponent Ron Sparks in the opening minute of action.

Here is a complete list of Bellator 56 results:

Daniel Gallemore def. Derrick Ruffin via TKO Round 2 (Retirement)
Aaron Ely def. Owen Evinger via Submission Round 1 (Rear-Naked Choke)
Jacob Aiken def. Jeimeson Saudino via Submission Round 1 (Rear-Naked Choke)
Emanuel Brooks def. Willian de Souza via Unanimous Decision
Kelvin Tiller def. Dan Spohn via Split Decision
Marcio Navarro def. Rudy Bears via Split Decision
Eric Prindle def. Ron Sparks via Knockout Round 1
Jeremy Spoon def. Adam Schindler via Unanimous Decision
Thiago Santos def. Neil Grove via Submission Round 1 (Rear-Naked Choke)
Ben Askren def. Jay Hieron via Split Decision


MMATraining Take: I recorded the show in order to watch both it and UFC 137 and consider me amongst the group who thought Hieron won. He was more aggressive and stuffed a number of Askren’s takedown attempts who is quickly turning into a fighter with a big mouth and only a one-dimensional attack to back it up. Great heavyweight stuff tool, at least if you’re a fan of huge guys throwing caution to the wind and banging it out – something the two heavyweight fights at UFC 137 could have used more of by the way.