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Maggie Hendricks

War of words heats up Bellator's welterweight semifinals

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It turns out that Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Rashad Evans don't have the market cornered on trash talk.

Ben Askren and Ryan Thomas, who will face off in Bellator's welterweight semifinals in Grand Prairie, Texas on Thursday night, have battled verbally since their first fight in April. That fight ended in dispute as the referee called a technical submission win for Askren. Thomas didn't tap and claims he could have won the fight.

In the post-fight press conference, Askren asked Thomas to come clean and recognize that he wouldn't have won.

Through a weird set of circumstances involving a volcano, Thomas was brought back into the tournament, and when he won, called out Askren.

In response, Askren said via his Facebook page, "Good job Ryan. Glad you called me out. Now I can choke you again, it will be my pleasure."

On Monday, Askren followed up his Facebook posting with more trash talk via a Bellator press release.

"I’m going to do the same thing I did the last time: I’m going to go in there and choke him," said Askren, the 25-year-old two-time NCAA Division I champion and U.S. Olympian. "Only this time I’m gonna put him to sleep all the way so he can’t complain about it."

Thomas responded Wednesday, saying that Askren needed to shut his mouth before Thomas did the job for him.

"I think it’s pretty cowardly of him to be walking around running his mouth bragging about a victory he didn’t earn," Thomas said. "The guy hasn’t done anything in MMA. He hasn’t beaten anybody, including me, so I don’t know where he gets off disrespecting me. After this fight I’m gonna show him that you can’t be a one-dimensional fighter in MMA in this day and age."

All this talk will be stopped Thursday when Askren and Thomas face off. Steve Carl and Dan Hornbuckle will fight in the other semifinal that will decide who will head to the Bellator finals on June 24 in Louisville.

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