PRO MMA ( brings you a new weekly feature. “Before they were fighters” will showcase a new MMA fighter every week before they turned to MMA. With the cross over nature of MMA this should continue to be an interesting feature.

This week we take a look at Bellator’s middleweight fighter Hector Lombard. This video is a ippon highlight from a Judo match between Lombard and France’s Daniel Fernandes in the 2002 world team championships.

Long before Hector Lombard was a Bellator Fighting Championship middleweight tournament finalist, he was a member of the Cuban Olympic Judo team. After making his big show debut with two fights in PRIDE, losses to Akihiro Gono and Gegard Mousasi, Lombard had a great deal of trouble entering the United States to fight. He was supposedly signed by the UFC and Elite XC, but neither fight ever materialized.

Finally he was able to get a visa and fight in the States. He now trains at American Top Team. Perhaps one day this can become a pipeline of Cuban Judo and wrestling talent, much in the same way Cuban baseball players end up in the major leagues.

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