File Photo: D. Herbertson/Sherdog.com
Bellator Fighting Championships middleweight titleholder Hector Lombard will collide with former World Extreme Cagefighting champion Paulo Filho in a non-title matchup on May 13 at the Monroe Civic Center in Monroe, La.
“As I have said frequently, I believe Hector Lombard is one of the top middleweights in the world,” Bellator founder and CEO Bjorn Rebney said in a release, “and this fight could be a great test for Hector and a great fight for MMA fans.”
Lombard will carry a 13-fight winning streak into the match. The 32-year-old Cuban judoka fought two weeks ago, when he stopped Art Santore on first-round cuts at a Cage Fighting Championships show in Australia. Based out of American Top Team, Lombard has never been finished and has not tasted defeat since his unanimous decision loss to current Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi in November 2006.
“I think it’s a great fight for me,” Lombard said. “Paulo is a big name in MMA, and he’s a former champion, so it will be champion versus champion. I think I match up really well with him, both on my feet and on the ground.”
The mercurial Filho, once recognized as one of the top five middleweights in the world, has battled substance abuse and personal problems in recent years. The once-beaten 31-year-old Brazilian has not competed since he submitted Tatsuhiko Nishizaka at a Bitetti Combat Nordeste event in December. Filho holds notable victories against Dutch striker Melvin Manhoef, UFC middleweight contender Chael Sonnen, former EliteXC middleweight champion Murilo “Ninja” Rua and 2006 Pride Fighting Championships welterweight grand prix winner Kazuo Misaki. In 20 career bouts, he has never been finished.
“When Paulo’s on his game, he is one of the most dangerous middleweights in the world,” Rebney said. “Just over a year ago he was ranked as one of the top 185-pounders on earth. Now, he’s back and winning frequently. And whereas other top middleweights wanted nothing to do with Hector Lombard, Paulo and his team agreed to take this fight.”