Bellator Inks 2000 Olympian

By Brian Knapp Jan 21, 2010
Another piece to the Bellator Fighting Championships Season 2 puzzle has fallen into place, as the promotion on Wednesday announced the signing of 2000 Olympic judoka Ferrid Kheder. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The 34-year-old joins undefeated Canadian Mike Ricci in an eight-man lightweight tournament, the winner of which will earn a shot at Bellator champion Eddie Alvarez. Kheder trains under Shawn Tompkins in Las Vegas and has won 11 of his last 12 fights.

“I see Ferrid as a real star that’s just waiting to explode,” Tompkins said in a release. “He’s one of those guys who’s flown under the radar so far, but, in the meantime, he’s been able to focus on learning how to incorporate all the other MMA skills into his judo. With that combination, I think he’s really going to be tough to beat.”

An M-1 Global, Sportfight and Jungle Fight veteran, Kheder, a third-degree judo black belt and Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt, has rattled off three consecutive victories since his August decision loss to Daisuke Nakamura. All five of his defeats have come by decision.

“Ferrid Kheder is a world-class athlete who has already competed at the highest levels, and now he’s working with one of MMA’s top coaches to further hone his skills,” Bellator founder and CEO Bjorn Rebney said. “Ferrid’s career has kicked into high-gear over his last dozen fights, and he will be very tough for anyone in our 155 tournament.”

Kheder, a 13-time national judo champion in his native France, becomes the second Olympian to join the Bellator ranks. The promotion signed 2008 Olympic wrestler Ben Askren earlier this year. Thirteen of Kheder’s 16 wins have come by knockout, technical knockout or submission, including a January 2009 victory over UFC veteran Drew Fickett.

“I’m a judo guy through and through, but I’ve adapted my skills to MMA,” Kheder said. “I’ve worked hard on my ground game and my striking, and I believe I’m ready to take it to the next level. Bellator is a great promotion; they respect their athletes and put on some great shows. I’m very excited for the opportunity.”
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