When longtime mixed martial arts fighter Falaniko “Niko” Vitale steps into the Bellator cage to take on current middleweight champion Hector Lombard in a super fight, he knows that it may be his last chance to make a major impact on the sport he loves.

“I’m honored to face Hector Lombard,” Vitale said. “He is a very tough fighter and I do respect him. But he has never faced anyone like me.”

The current X-1 middleweight champion has been competing as a professional prize fighter for more than a decade now, and he has become one of the sport’s legends in his native Hawaii.

Vitale has been steadily consistent, amassing a 29-9 record overall, and he hasn’t been beaten on the Islands in more than five years. Now, he will return to the main land, as he takes on Lombard in the main event at Bellator 44 on May 14 in Atlantic City.

A veteran with impressive victories over the likes of Olympian Matt Lindland, former UFC champion Dave Menne, UFC No. 1 contender Yushin Okami, and UFC veteran Kalib Starnes, 25 of Vitale’s 29 career victories have come via dominant stoppages. On the flip side, Vitale hasn’t been knocked out or submitted in more than five years, and he holds an 8-2 record over his last 10 bouts.

Currently riding an impressive three-fight win streak, with two victories via Ezekiel Choke, Niko is still focused on the task at hand.

“I’m not concerned with my last three fights…I’m focused on my task in front of me.”

“My game plan is to win,” Vitale said. “This fight will not go to the judges…I will win by knockout or submission.”

Bellator is a new challenge for Vitale with its tournament formats, but it is one that he is ready to meet and succeed in.

“I have a lot of fight left in me,” Vitale said. “I know there are some people that are counting me out but after I hand Hector his first loss in nearly 20 fights people will know I’m for real.”

“First and foremost I have to thank my lord and savior Jesus Christ, my family for all of the support, my manager Ron Foster, and my sponsors: Hawaiian Fight Gear, Hawaii National Guard, Da Hui, JN Chevolet, MMA Hawaii and Bellator for the opportunity.”

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