Olympian and two-time NCAA champion wrestler Ben Askren won in his first televised MMA bout with Bellator in Chicago on Thursday night.
Askren, wearing the colors of his alma mater and mine, took a couple of punches and smiled before taking Ryan Thomas down. He looked to be in trouble early, getting caught in a triangle choke before slipping out. The two continued to grappled when Askren secured an anaconda choke. The referee asked if Thomas was OK, but he didn't answer, so the referee stepped in and stopped the bout at 2:40 in the first for a technical submission win.
Thomas did not tap and protested the stoppage. The crowd at the Chicago Theatre booed and chanted for a replay, but Askren was the winner in his first bout with Bellator, and he will move onto the next round of the tournament.
Though there are plenty of controversial stoppages in MMA, this shouldn't be included in that group. Askren had Thomas locked up tight, and when the referee asked Thomas for his status, he didn't answer. The referee made the right call in this instance to keep the fighters safe.