Bellator Fighting Championship announces first two exclusive fighters

Hector Lombard

Bellator Fighting Championships is the first MMA organization to secure a TV deal with any member of the ESPN family of networks.

Beginning in April, Bellator will showcase their MMA fighters in a tournament format. The best will fight the best each week to determine who rises to the top and becomes Champion, and who collects the largest purses. And all of this will be available on free TV through ESPN Deportes.

Bellator has announced they signed American Top Team’s Hector Lombard, a former Olympic Judo competitor and Cuban national champion, to an exclusive fight contract. At 185 pounds, Hector has amassed a highly respectable record of 17-2-1 with his only losses coming by way of decision to Akihiro Gono and Gegard Mousasi in the PRIDE organization.

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Dan Barrera makes MMA return at XFC 7 in Knoxville, TN

We haven’t heard much from Daniel Barrera since his stint on The Ultimate Fighter 6. Like Chris Lytle, Barrera is a firefighter but he is also an instructor at SSF Submission Academy in Clarksville, TN.

Barrera lost to Ben Saunders at the Ultimate Fighter 6 Finale by decision in December of ’07. That was his first professional MMA fight. Since then, Barrera has reeled off two straight victories, the most recent was on October 3, 2008 at Showcase of Strength in Shepardsville, KY.

Barrera will be stepping back into the cage on February 20th in Knoxville, Tennessee, where he will face Robert “Iron Man” Thompson at Xtreme Fighting Championship’s XFC 7: RETRIBUTION. With the UFC scheduled to land in Nashville just two months later, MMA promotions are taking full advantage of the state’s legalization of the sport, which came in 2008.

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Marcos Rua joins brothers, Ninja and Shogun as MMA fighter

Shogun, Marcos, & Ninja

The third and youngest Rua brother is set to follow in the footsteps of his siblings. Twenty-two year old Marcos Rua, the younger brother of Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua and Murilo ‘Ninja’ Rua, is set to make his MMA debut in Brazil sometime in the near future.

Although youngest, he is the tallest of the three light heavyweights. Marcos, who currently has no nickname, was set to fight in ‘The Glory’ (a Brazilian MMA promotion) this month, but the event has been postponed until March.

“He’s well, training tough and very focused,” Mauricio Rua told Tatame. “He was due to fight at The Glory in January, but it was delayed to March. But we want to see him fighting before then.”

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Dean Lister out of UFC

 Dean Lister is the most recent MMA fighter to join the proverbial UFC graveyard. The 11-6 UFC veteran has been with the company since 2006. He was 4-2 in the UFC with losses to Nate Marquardt and most recently, Yusin Okami.

It was rumored prior to UFC 92 that Lister could be cut from the UFC if he lost his fight with Yushin Okami and unfortunately for Lister, he gave up a unanimous decision. Reports now state that he is “out of the UFC after asking to be released from his contract.”

A very talented and successful jiu-jitsu competitor, Lister has never been able to bring his striking up remotely close to the level of his grappling.

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UFC coming to Nashville, Tennessee April 1

Jeremy "Lil' Heathen" Stephens will fight in TN

Nashville, Tennessee will finally get the event it has been looking forward to for years. The UFC will bring its promotion to Music City on April 1, 2009 for Ultimate Fight Night 18.

The event will broadcast live on SPIKE TV and will serve as prelude to episode one of The Ultimate Fighter season nine. This season of the Ultimate Fighter will feature Team U.K., coached by Michael Bisping vs. Team USA, coached by the UFC 93 winner of Rich Franklin vs. Dan Henderson.

A fight between The Ultimate Fighter season 8 lightweight winner, Efrain Escudero, and Jeremy “Lil’ Heathen” Stephens has been confirmed for the Ultimate Fight Night 18 card in Nashville. Stephens, who is coming off a KO win over Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 91, also has a win over Cole Miller at Ultimate Fight Night 12.

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The official 2008 PRO MMA AWARDS

2008, as far as competition goes, was a great year for MMA. Some of the old guard was forced to step aside as the next generation of talented fighters made their mark. Out of all the action, some fighters and fights were more memorable and significant for various reasons. We have tried to recognize those special moments and fighters from the past year.

These are the official 2008 PRO MMA AWARDS as voted on by the staff here at PRO MMA (http://promma.info). Do you agree or disagree with our picks? Let us know. Maybe we overlooked or forgot something.

PRO MMA FIGHT OF THE YEAR: Miguel Torres vs. Yoshiro Maeda at WEC 34 on 6/1/2008

KNOCKOUT OF THE YEAR: Rashad Evans’ KO of Chuck Liddell at UFC 88 on 9/6/2008

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Bobby Lashley will fight for Palace Fighting Championship in February

Former WWE pro wrestling star, Bobby Lashley, will reportedly have his next fight with the Palace Fighting Championship promotion. Lashley, 1-0 in his mixed martial arts career, will fight on the PFC’s February 6th card in Lenore, California.

Although an opponent has not been named, a list of fighters Lashley could face to possibly build up his fight resume has been sent to him for review.

Lashley attended Missouri Valley College, where he won three national amateur wrestling championships between 1996 and 1998 and placed fourth in 1995. Throughout 1997 and 1998, he was the National Association of Inter-collegiate Athletics (NAIA) National Wrestling Champion. Lashley later joined the United States Army, where he continued to wrestle.

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Sengoku “Seventh Battle” preview (1-04-09)

World Victory Road’s SENGOKU “Seventh Battle” takes place tonight at 1:00 a.m. CST in Saitama, Japan. We here at PRO MMA (http://promma.info) will be providing real time round-by-round coverage of the event. It will host the creation of the first two Sengoku champions.

Sengoku 7 is headlined by “The Fireball Kid,” Takanori Gomi vs. Satoru Kitaoka for the Sengoku Lightweight Championship. Gomi will have his hands full against the undefeated submission specialist who has put away such MMA greats as Carlos Condit, Kurt Pellegrino, and Paul Daley.

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