Lombard, Hess Advance to Bellator Final

By Brian Knapp May 29, 2009
Pride Fighting Championships veteran Hector Lombard advanced to the Bellator Fighting Championship middleweight tournament final on Friday, as he stopped James Damien Stelly on first-round strikes at the Monroe Civic Center in Monroe, La. The end came 2:56 into round one.

Unbeaten in his last 14 bouts, Lombard took down Stelly, passed his guard and ultimately moved to mount, where he finished his foe with punches from the top. A decorated judoka who now trains with American Top Team, Lombard (20-2-1, 1 NC) will carry a nine-fight winning streak into his next match. The 31-year-old former Olympian has finished his last five opponents.

Stelly (10-3), a 27-year-old Army Ranger and former Golden Gloves champion, saw his five-fight winning streak grind to a halt.

Lombard will face the undefeated Jared Hess in the middleweight final.

Hess controlled his semi-final showdown with Yosmany Cabezas, as he stopped the EliteXC veteran on third-round strikes. Cabezas (8-2), finished for the first time as a professional, met his end 4:26 into the third period.

An accomplished amateur wrestler, the 25-year-old Hess (9-0-1) grounded his opponent at will and punished him from the top. Cabezas, weary and battered, surrendered his back in the third round, and Hess capitalized. He flurried from behind and forced the referee to intervene with a little more than half a minute left in the fight.

In non-tournament middleweight action, Icon Sport and Deep veteran Nick Ring made a successful return to the cage. He needed just 39 seconds to coax a tapout from Isidro Gonzalez with a guillotine choke. Ring (8-0) had not competed in more than three years.

Finally, International Fight League veteran Shad Lierley -- best known for his memorable slugfest with Chris Horodecki in 2007 -- notched a unanimous decision victory against Nate Murdock. Lierley (5-2) opened a deep cut under Murdock’s eye in the first round and never looked back. All three judges scored it 30-27 for the 28-year-old, who has rattled off three wins in a row since his knockout loss to Wagnney Fabiano last year.

Other Bouts
Alex Andrade def. Christian Fulgram – TKO (Punches) 2:01 R1
Shawn Jordan def. Jayme Mckinney – Tapout (Choke) 5:30 R2
Chas Skelly def. Mike Braswell – Split Decision (30-27, 28-29, 29-28)
Chad Leonhardt Def. Dan Keenan – KO (Knee) 3:03 R1
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