Earlier tonight in Texas:
LinkUFC veteran Diego Saraiva hoped to make a statement in his featured non-title bout with Bellator featherweight champion Joe Soto.
Instead, it was the undefeated Nor-Cal Fighting Alliance product that made the statement.
Soto needed just five minutes to earn a doctor's stoppage in the main event of Thursday's Bellator 19 event at the Verizon Theatre in Grand Prairie, Texas.
Saraiva worked well on his feet early, but Soto was able to work the fight to the canvas. From there, Soto rained down blows from top position, and the damage started to show. Saraiva remained active from his back and looked to threaten with a submission, but Soto elbows opened up a massive cut on his opponent's head. Saraiva made it to the bell, but doctor's quickly assessed his wound and called a halt to the bout.
Soto (9-0 MMA, 4-0 BFC) remains undefeated in his career, while Saraiva (18-9-1 MMA, 0-1 BFC) loses for the first time as a featherweight and is stopped for the first time in his career.
In one half of Bellator's welterweight tournament, budding rivals Ben Askren and Ryan Thomas renewed their clash in the cage. While the first bout between the two ended in controversy, the second was marked by complete domination.
Askren worked Thomas to the canvas early in the first round, and "The Tank Engine" was forced to work from his back. It was a position he'd get used to over the next three rounds. Askren shifted easily from dominant position to dominant position while Thomas proved unable to escape back to his feet. Thomas looked for an occasional submission from his back, but they were never a real threat. In the end, Askren took a one-sided decision, 30-27 on all three cards.
Askren (5-0 MMA, 2-0 BFC) remains undefeated in his young career, while Thomas (11-5 MMA, 1-2 BFC falls short while competing for the third time in just five weeks.
In the card's first welterweight semifinal 29-year-old Dan Hornbuckle continued his astounding win streak by quickly dispatching of opponent Steve Carl.
After a brief exchange on the feet, Carl successfully took Hornbuckle to the canvas. Unfortunately for Carl, "The Handler" was just fine attacking from his back. Hornbuckle locked in a kimura attempt from the bottom, swept to top position, and finished off the hold, forcing the tap just 2:31 into the opening round.
Hornbuckle (21-2 MMA, 2-0 BFC), who faces Askren in what appears to be a thrilling final, has now won 19 of his past 20 fights, while Carl (10-2 MMA, 1-1 BFC) sees an eight-fight win streak halted.
The evening's first featured bout featured two fighters seeking a berth in Bellator's season-three heavyweight tournament. Scott Barrett took advantage of the opportunity.
After taking opponent Ty Lee to the canvas twice in the early going, Barrett unloaded with an assault of ground-and-pound blows. Lee tried desperately to escape the poor position, but Barrett was unrelenting in his attack and earned the stoppage at the 2:25 mark of the opening frame.
Barrett (10-1 MMA, 1-0 BFC) has now won four-straight fights and will return this fall for Bellator's debut heavyweight grand prix, while Lee (7-1 MMA, 0-1 BFC) loses for the first time as a professional.
* Joe Soto def. Diego Saraiva via TKO (doctor stoppage) - Round 1, 5:00
* Ben Askren def. Ryan Thomas via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
* Dan Hornbuckle def. Steve Carl via submission (kimura) - Round 1, 2:31
* Scott Barrett def. Ty Lee via TKO (punches) - Round 1, 2:25
* Chas Skelly def. Daniel Pineda via submission (kneebar) - Round 2, 2:16*
* Joe Christopher def. Brandon McDowell via submission (guillotine choke) - Round 1, 1:36*
* Johnny Bedford def. Jared Lopez via TKO (strikes) - Round 3, 2:16*
* Douglas Frey def. Aaron Wise via submission (guillotine choke) - Round 1, 0:49
* Joshua Smith def. Donyiell Winrow via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
* - Bout took place following main event