Lombard Dazzles; Warren, Pitbull Advance at Bellator 18


Bellator Fighting Championships middleweight king Hector Lombard thumped on his chest and blew kisses to the crowd after he left yet another opponent in his destructive wake. His latest attack was almost nuclear in nature.

Lombard knocked out UFC veteran Jay Silva just six seconds into round one of their Bellator 18 non-title bout on Thursday at the Monroe Civic Center in Monroe, La. A left-hook-right hook combination on the opening exchange sent Silva -- a late replacement for former World Extreme Cagefighting middleweight champion Paulo Filho -- crashing face-first to the canvas before either man had broken a sweat.

“That was beautiful,” Lombard said.

Anchored at American Top Team, Lombard has won 14 fights in a row, 11 of them finishes. The 32-year-old Cuban judoka, a frightening blend of speed, power and technique, figures to defend his Bellator crown sometime in the fall.

“Everybody knows,” Lombard said. “I’m the Bellator middleweight champion, and they have to respect that.”

Former Greco-Roman wrestling world champion Joe Warren leaned on takedowns, effective ground-and-pound and dogged toughness, as he defeated Georgi Karakhanyan by unanimous decision to advance to the 2010 Bellator featherweight tournament final. Scores were 30-27 across the board for Warren.

Warren scored with multiple, high-impact takedowns in all three rounds and fought off various submission attempts from Karakhanyan, a Brazilian-jiu-jitsu brown belt who threatened him with a heel hook in the first round, a straight armbar in the second and a guillotine choke in the third. Karakhanyan opened a cut on Warren with a flying knee in round three but failed to string together the kind of offense he needed to put away the American.

The defeat snapped Karakhanyan’s nine-fight winning streak, which dated back to his February 2008 split-decision loss to Chris David. Warren, a semi-finalist in the 2009 Dream featherweight grand prix, has rattled off back-to-back wins since his submission defeat to the world-ranked Bibiano Fernandes seven months ago.

Joe Warren’s here to stay,” Warren said. “I knew he had good knees, so I thought I’d take him down with whatever I could. I was the better man today.”

Unbeaten Brazilian prospect Patricio “Pitbull” Freire outdueled former EliteXC champion Wilson Reis en route to a unanimous nod in the second of two featherweight tournament semi-finals. All three judges scored it 29-28 for Freire, who will collide with Warren in the final.

Freire and Reis fought to a standstill through the first five minutes. Pitbull, however, found another gear in the second round, as he piled up points with well-timed combinations, kicks to the body and standing knees to the head, one of which cut his opponent near the left eye. Unable to drag the battle to the ground, Reis found himself at a distinct disadvantage on his feet.

The 23-year-old Freire, an Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira understudy, widened his lead in the third round, as he sprawled effectively and outworked Reis in the clinch. Undefeated through 14 professional appearances, he also delivered a stout right uppercut, several knees to the body and a beautiful trip takedown.

“My plan was to go for the knockout,” Freire said through his translator. “Unfortunately, Wilson is a very tough guy.”

Other Bouts
Charlie Rader def. Christian Fulgium -- KO (Punches) 3:27 R1
Brock Kerry def. Mike Braswell -- TKO (Punches) 3:20 R1
Lamont Stafford def. Jules Bruchez -- TKO (Punches) 0:19 R2
Bill Albrecht def. Jason Anderson -- Submission (Armbar) 0:36 R1
Shawn Jordan def. Doug Williams -- TKO (Punches) 0:19 R1

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