When Lyman Good stepped into the cage at Bellator’s second event, he was a seasoned product of the Northeast circuit. But, much like the fledgling promotion itself, the scrappy New Yorker was a newcomer to the national stage, so on that night in April, 2009, the man with unparalleled conditioning and well-rounded skills made the most of his time spotlight. Months later, Good was the winner of Bellator’s inaugural 170-pound tournament.
Two years have passed since then, and thanks to the UFC’s purchase of Strikeforce, Bellator finds itself the newly-crowned number two MMA organization, airing weekly on MTV2. Good, meanwhile, finds himself once more in the welterweight mix, the victim of a highly-credentialed, highly-unorthodox Olympic wrestler named Ben Askren in his first and only title defense.
On March 5, Bellator fielded eight warriors for the opening bracket of their Season Four tournament, and besides Good, the lineup included former IFL champ Jay Hieron, Olympic judoka Rick Hawn, hard-hitters Chris Lozano and Brent Weedman, and Season Two tournament runner-up Dan Hornbuckle. When the quarterfinal dust settled, only Good, Hieron, Hawn and Weedman remained.
On April 2, Good and Hawn will meet for a semifinal contest, with the winner moving on to the finals and edging one step further in the quest to dethrone the division’s current king. MMAConvert caught up with Good in between training sessions to get his perspective on the remaining competitors – and to handicap their chances at making it to the end.
Of the four remaining, none possess the experience of Hieron, who’s fought in everything from the UFC to Strikeforce to Affliction. But the former Bellator champ feels that that lengthy record may play against the “Thoroughbred”. “My first thought on him coming into this tournament is his mentality,” says Good. “He’s a veteran, so I think he thinks this is going to be a breeze for him. I think his mentality is the only thing that’s going to set him back. He poses as much a threat as anyone else, but it’s a tournament. It’s not easy. Does he have the right mindset to win it?”
Though much less accomplished, Weedman does have quite a few fights to his name as well – 24, to be exact – and he’s proven capable of winning via submission or knockout. To earn his berth in the semifinals, Hieron steamrolled over Anthony Lapsley; Good doesn’t think the Team Xtreme fighter will find the same success against Weedman.
“I like Weedman,” he says of the man who snagged a win via unanimous decision over Hornbuckle to move forward. “He’s a great guy, great competitor, and I think he’s probably one of the more well-rounded of all the welterweights. He’s got pretty good hands, good stand-up, and he’s well-versed on the ground. I think he’s exciting. I like him a lot in this.”
And then there’s Hawn, who tossed an opponent on his head at a Bellator event last season to claim a tournament slot, and who out-boxed “Judo” Jim Wallhead to get to the semifinals. “He’s very seasoned in judo,” says Good of his future opponent. “I think he’s definitely interesting as a fighter. He went into a fight against Jim Wallhead and everyone was expecting a judo showdown, but he showed his hands. It shows a versatility in Rick Hawn, and because of that I’m very excited. This is a great test for me. I just fought one of the best strikers in the welterweight class, and now I get to fight one of the better judo/boxing guys.”
As for predictions, Good asserted that he stays away from such fistic prognostications. It is MMA after all, and anything can happen. But when asked if he was concerned with Hawn’s Olympic-level judo game, Good shrugged it off. He lives in the cage at the gym when prepping for a fight (yes, literally, although he does bring in his own pillow), and his daily regimen includes sessions of plyometrics and conditioning, sparring with pro boxers, grappling, and kickboxing. Said Good, “I survived 25 minutes of getting dry humped by a guy who’s a top wrestler. What is Rick Hawn going to do?”