Bellator middleweight champ Hector Lombard is set to return on May 14 | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
A non-title bout between Bellator Fighting Championships middleweight titleholder Hector Lombard and UFC veteran Falaniko Vitale is being put together for Bellator 44.
Sherdog.com confirmed the news with a source close to the event on Tuesday morning; MMAJunkie.com initially reported the matchup. Though not yet announced by the promotion, Bellator 44 is expected to take place on May 14. According to multiple sources, a venue in Atlantic City, N.J., is being targeted for the event, but arrangements have not been finalized.
A black belt in both judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Lombard has not lost since 2006. The powerful Cuban made his Bellator in April 2009 and won three consecutive bouts over the course of two months to capture the promotion's inaugural middleweight belt.
After notching three wins outside the promotion, the American Top Team product returned to Bellator’s circular cage in 2010, earning a six-second knockout over Jay Silva at Bellator 18. Most recently, Lombard defended his Bellator title for the first time against second-season middleweight tournament winner Alexander Shlemenko at Bellator 34 in October.
Vitale has won four of his last five bouts heading into his Bellator debut against Lombard. An 11-year veteran of the sport, the Hawaiian has competed for both the UFC and Strikeforce.
Vitale owns 28 victories as a professional and has submitted 16 of his career victims. After an 18-month hiatus from competition, Vitale returned in 2010, racking up back-to-back wins over Kalib Starnes and Kala Hose, respectively. Before meeting Lombard, Vitale will defend his X-1 middleweight title against Dylan Clay at the Hawaiian promotion’s March 12 event.