On Friday night, two time Bellator tournament winner Rick Hawn will find himself in a familiar spot.
The 38 year-old former Judo player started his run with the promotion in the welterweight division with three consecutive wins, but eventually lost a split decision to a much bigger Jay Hieron in the season four tournament final.
Hawn, diminutive for the 170 pound class, dropped down to lightweight and had success – winning a tournament and challenging for a championship. Later on in 2013, Hawn would return to the welterweight division, filling in as a late-replacement in the season 9 tournament against a similar-sized opponent in Herman Terrado.
“I originally took that (Terrado) fight and entered the tournament as a welterweight, because size wasn’t going to be a huge issue against Terrado,” said Hawn.
Following a decision win over Terrado, Hawn topped Brent Weedman and Ron Keslar to win the tournament and earn an opportunity to challenge Douglas Lima for the promotion’s welterweight strap. As was the case in the Hieron fight, size played a major role.
“He (Lima) probably had at least 20-pounds on me by fight time. I was 185, and he told me he was around 205 the day of fight,” said Hawn. “Given that and his several-inch advantage of reach made a big difference. I’m not making excuses – those are just the facts of the fight. I made the choice to fight at 170.”
And now he’s making the choice to return to lightweight. Hawn is set to face a fellow lightweight tournament winner in Dave Jansen at Bellator 130.
“Dave Jansen is a very tough fighter and a gritty wrestler. I’ve met him before and talked with him – he’s a cool kid. He’s been out for a while now, but he’s definitely flying under the radar,” said Hawn. “His biggest attribute is that he’s tough mentally. He’s got that aggressive wrestler’s mentality, and he grinds fights out by wearing guys down.”
While the situation is similar, Hawn expects to showcase a few new tools and adjustments to an arsenal that has already led to success in the Bellator cage.
“I’m bringing in a different mentality and style for this fight. Or, at least, it’s an improved version of my original style,” said Hawn. “I’m definitely working hard on improving and being a different kind of fighter than the fans are used to seeing.”