Monroe, Louisiana â€“ May 30, 2009 â€“ In front of an electrified and vocal crowd in Monroe, Louisiana, Hector Lombard and Jared Hess put on dominating performances to earn their way to the first ever Bellator Middleweight world championship. Opening the semi-final action was the Cuban Olympian and knockout artist Hector â€œShangoâ€ Lombard taking on Army Ranger and combatives expert Damien Stelly. Out of the gates both fighters let punches fly with a go-for-broke start that ended with Lombard mounting Stelly and implementing a ground and pound strategy that eventually resulted in a referee stoppage. While Stelly fought gallantly, he wasnâ€™t able to break free from Lombardâ€™s mount and the referee stopped the fight via TKO with the ultra tough Hector Lombard moving onto the finals in under three minutes.
Headlining the night, the Oklahoman all-around tactical machine Jared Hess faced the legend killer and unpredictably versatile Yosmany Cabezas. Nearly going the three round distance, this match demonstrated how tough both competitors are with Hess dominating the fight with ground and pound while Cabezas consistently looked for an edge on Hess. Although Hess defiantly took the first two rounds with Cabezas physically showing signs of his beating, the Cuban powerhouse Cabezas never gave up even with fists showering upon him. With only 30 seconds left in the match, the referee called it a TKO victory for the relentless Oklahoman tornado Jared Hess. Both Hess and Lombard collected the $50,000 purse and will move onto the Bellator Middleweight world championship bout and compete for the $100,000 grand prize in Hollywood, Florida on June 19th at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. All the Bellator Middleweight semi-final action can be seen on Saturday, May 30, 2009 exclusively on ESPN Deportes and on Bellator.com on Wednesday, June 3, 2009.
â€œThe Hector Lombard, Jared Hess final truly pits our two top Middleweights against each other. Lombard standing is an amazingly powerful force and Hess on the ground is non-stop action and strikes. This should be a great final,â€ remarked Bellator Fighting Championships CEO Bjorn Rebney. â€œThis deafening Monroe, Louisiana crowd was treated to a fantastic night of action that was just a preview of the championship finals that these two powerhouses will demonstrate at Bellator XII in June.â€
With the stunning undercard battles, Nick Ring returned to the cage after a three year hiatus, not showing an inch of ring rust, to submit Isidro Gonzalez in less than one minute via guillotine submission. Alex Andrade returned to Bellator action for retribution and got just that by dominating Christian Fulgram with a furious throwing of rights and lefts resulting in the referee to call it in just over two minutes. In a battle of the heavyweights, LSU football star Shawn Jordan impressed his loyal fans by taking out fellow Louisianan Jayme McKinney in 30 seconds into the second.
Bellator IX Middleweight Semi-Final Tournament bouts
185 lbs. â€“ Yosmany Cabezas (8-2) vs. Jared Hess (8-0-1) Hess by TKO at 14:26
185 lbs. â€“ Damien Stelly (9-3) vs. Hector Lombard (19-2) Lombard by TKO (strikes) at 2:56
Bellator IX Non-tournament bouts
185 lbs. â€“ Isidro Gonzalez (16-13) vs. Nick Ring (8-0) Ring by submission (guillotine) at 0:39
145 lbs. â€“ Shad Lierley (5-2) vs. Nate Murdock (6-5) Lierley by unanimous decision
185 lbs. â€“ Christian Fulgram (10-3) vs. Alex Andrade (8-5) Andrade by TKO at 2:01
HWT â€“ Shawn Jordan (1-0) vs. Jayme McKinney (5-4) Jordan by submission at 5:30
175 lbs. â€“ Dan Keenan (0-1) vs. Chan Leonhardt (3-1) Leonhardt by KO at 3:03
155 lbs. â€“ Chas Skelly (3-0) vs. Mike Braswell (4-3) Skelly by split decision