After another crushing knockout on Thursday night, Hector Lombard
has finished his last two Bellator opponents in just 44 seconds. Apparently bored with the competition that Bellator is offering him in the middleweight division, Lombard used his mic time after polishing off Herbert "Whisper" Goodman
by calling out former UFC heavyweight champ Josh Barnett.
"Hey Josh Barnett, I want to fight you, too," Lombard yelled out. "I don't care how much you weigh, I want to fight you."
Barnett was in the crowd after cornering Japanese fighter Megumi Fujii
during her win earlier in the evening and did not visibly respond.
Lombard has won 15 straight and is undefeated in his last 20 bouts dating back to Feb. 2007. The Cuban-born fighter has steamrolled most of his competition during the streak, finishing 11 of his last 12 opponents.
Goodman, a former NFL running back with the Green Bay Packers, was simply overwhelmed by Lombard much the way most of his recent opponents have been. Lombard staggered Goodman with a vicious right hook, then followed up a few seconds later with a straight right that knocked him down. Lombard swarmed with ground strikes, but ref Jorge Alonso quickly realized Goodman was out, and the fight was stopped just 38 seconds in.
The fight was a non-title bout, so while Lombard's belt was not at stake, the win virtually assures that he will be able to face No. 1 contender Alexander Shlemenko on Oct. 28, as Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney told MMA Fighting recently
Asked by Bellator analyst Jimmy Smith about his prediction for the Shlemenko fight, Lombard emphasized his usual track to victory. "Knockout artist, brother," he said.
While Lombard's winning streak is impressive, it pales in comparison to that of undefeated female competitor Megumi Fujii, who pushed her unmatched streak to 21 wins in a row to start her career with a second-round submission over late replacement Carla Esparza.
Fujii shook off a close first round, capitalizing on her vaunted ground game to notch the arm bar win, which advances her into the second round of Bellator's 115-pound women's tournament.
Fujii and Esparza fought an even first round, with Esparza peppering Fujii with strikes and using her wrestling to keep the fight standing.
The complexion of the fight changed quickly as the next round began however. Fujii used a clinch to roll into a leglock, and quickly transitioned to an arm bar that led to the finish.
Fujii improved her remarkable record to a perfect 21-0 with the victory, and she remains a heavy favorite to capture Bellator's inaugural women's tourney.Jessica Aguilar
emerged victorious in the night's other women's tournament opener, using an arm triangle to get a first-round tapout win over Lynn Alvarez
Aguilar took Alvarez down early in the first and worked patiently for an opening, once nearly securing the arm triangle before Alvarez escaped. She tenaciously continued onward with her ground attack, and the second time was the charm as she used the same submission hold to close out the fight at 4:01 of the round.
"That's what I was planning to do, finish as quick as possible to get out injury-free and move on to next round," she said. "I listened to my corner and came out with the victory."
In the heavyweight tournament opener, Neil Grove
scored a one-sided TKO victory, needing just 92 seconds to score a technical knockout over Eddie Sanchez
Grove dropped Sanchez early with his first punch of the fight, a straight left that perfectly caught the oncoming Sanchez, who never found his way back into the fight. Grove smothered him with strikes from the top, and Sanchez did all he could to defend himself, but several of Grove's strikes got through.
Eventually, Grove let Sanchez up before dropping him and swarming again. When Grove let him up a second time, Sanchez was very slow to return to his feet and asked the referee for a moment. Referee Jorge Alonso instead called a halt to the action.
"He's very durable and I saw a bunch of his previous fights, so I knew I'd have to hit him hard to finish the fight," Grove said. "Right then and there [after the opening knockdown] I thought it'd be easy but he kept taking the punches. It's a credit to Eddie, he stood back up and I knew I had more to do."