After gathering returning contenders and signing new talent, Bellator Fighting Championships has set the match-ups for the first round of the Season 6 Middleweight Tournament. With Bellator king “Shango” Hector Lombard (31-2) scheduled for his second title defense and rematch with “The Storm” Alexander Shlemenko (34-5) in the late spring or early summer, both he and his challenger have eyes on yet another title contender who will rise from the eight fighters to earn the chance for a shot at the gold around Lombard’s waist.
Perhaps one of the greatest nights of MMA history was witnessed on Saturday, November 19. Among the historic events was Bellator 58 at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, Florida, featuring the long awaited title defense of top-ranked Bellator Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez (20-3) against relentless challenger Michael Chandler (9-0). With the title fight as the event’s main attraction there was more star power to support the 155lbs. title bout. Bellator Middleweight Champion “Shango” Hector Lombard (29-2) met UFC and Strikeforce veteran Trevor Prangley (23-8) in a non-title catchweight bout of 195lbs. Two of the top five in Women’s MMA went to war in a rematch that had been five years in the making as “JAG” Jessica Aguilar (12-4) and Lisa Ellis-Ward (14-6) faced off in the cage. Starting off the action was former Sengoku featherweight king Marlon Sandro (20-3) and WEC veteran Rafael Dias (15-5) in a 145lbs. match-up with the hopes of the winner earning his way into the next featherweight tournament.
Tonight at Bellator 57 it’s back to the Casino Rama in Orilla, Ontario, Canada for not one but two tournament finales that grants one contender a homecoming to his former stomping grounds. Former MFC Welterweight Champion “The Phenom” Douglas Lima (18-4) earned his salt in the MFC promotion making him a fan favorite in the region. Standing across from him is UFC veteran, “Killa B” Ben Saunders (12-3). Both men have fought their ways to the finals and now only the other stands in their way for the big payday and the title shot against champion Ben Askren (9-0). Aside from the 170lbs. tournament finals, the promotion’s stacked and dangerous middleweight division will also prepare for glory. Season 2 Tournament winner and Russian striking machine “The Storm” Alexander Shelmenko (32-4) will meet multi-time world Jiu-Jitsu champion Vitor Vianna (12-1) in the tournament finals with the winner gaining the task of attempting to dethrone the champion “Shango” Hector Lombard (28-2). Supporting the two finales are a pair of bouts that could earn the winners a spot in the upcoming season’s tournaments. NAAFS veteran and owner of one Bellator victory John Hawk (6-3) will meet Extreme Cage Combat and MFC veteran Roger Hollett (11-3) in a light heavyweight affair, and Shark Fights and UFC veteran Douglas Evans (12-7) faces Bellator veteran Alexandre Bezerra (11-1). Bezerra is looking to stay unbeaten in his Bellator career while Evans is looking to get back on the comfortable side of victory road.
The Bellator Season 5 Middleweight Tournament semi-finals went off with a bang in Atlantic City, New Jersey as Bellator 54 anchored ship last night at the Boardwalk Hall. “The Beast” Bryan Baker (13-3) took on Vitor Vianna (12-1) and “The Storm” Alexander Shlemenko (32-4) slugged it out with “The Predator” Brian Rogers (8-3) for a chance to advance to the finals and a shot at Bellator gold. Bellator Bantamweight Champion “Fun Size” Zach Makovsky (14-2) stepped back into the cage for another non-title fight against the powerhouse Ryan Roberts (16-11). The main card featured on MTV2 was started off in the lightweight division with a bout featuring Bellator veteran “The Brazilian Bomber” Rene Nazare (8-1) and the Bellator first-timer “The Hunter” Jacob Kirwan (9-3).
Tonight, Luna Park’s Big Top Stadium in Sydney, Australia plays host to the inaugural event of the 2011 season for the nation’s longest running MMA promotion, Cage Fighting Championships (CFC). Headlining CFC 16: Lombard vs. Doerksen is reigning concurrent CFC and Bellator Middleweight Champion “Shango” Hector Lombard (25-2) putting not only his belt on the line for a sixth time, but also his four-year long win streak that saw him capture two titles and left a trail of knocked out opponents in his wake when he faces UFC veteran and hard nosed submission specialist “El Dirte” Joe Doerksen (44-14). Doerksen is looking to put an end to his two-fight skid, and taking out a powerhouse and top ten middleweight in Lombard will surely sweeten the win and make an impressive addition to his resume. The co-main event pits Sydney’s own “Chalate” Manuel Rodriguez (7-1) against New Zealand native “Hot Rod” Rod MacSwain (12-2) in a high stakes No. 1 contender bout for the promotion’s welterweight title currently held by American fighter Jesse Juarez (13-4). Also backing the two action packed bouts is a night full of Australian fight veterans and young guns looking to stake claims in Aussie’s premier MMA promotion, Cage Fighting Championships.
Bellator Middleweight Champion and aggressive knockout artist “Shango” Hector Lombard (25-2) returns to his court after his Unanimous Decision victory over Bellator Season 2 Tournament Winner “The Storm” Alexander Shlemenko (29-4) at Bellator 34 last October. Lombard is expected to meet UFC, Strikeforce, and Superbrawl veteran “Niko” Falaniko Vitale (27-8) in a non-title fight that likely will take place at Bellator 44 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The champ rides an impressive 14-fight win streak into the bout and has not lost a match since 2006. “Shango” is expected to come out as a clear favorite against the larger Hawaiian, who makes his debut on a three-fight streak of his own.