Bellator middleweight champion Hector Lombard finally knows when he’ll be fighting again.
He’s been out of action since defending his belt last October, but will return at Bellator 44 on May 14 to face Hawaiian veteran Falaniko Vitale. The bout will be a non-title affair.
Lombard maintains an impressive 27-2-1 record, but has had difficulty moving up the ranks of the world’s top middleweights. He spent the majority of his career mowing his way through the fighters in his homeland of Australia, dominating the country’s premier MMA organization, Cage Fighting Championships.
Lombard made the move to the U.S. with Bellator 3, running the gambit in the promotion’s first middleweight tournament to win the belt. He has defended the belt once under the Bellator banner and won two other non-title fights in the midst of a 20-0-1 run.
He defended his belt from Alexander Shlemenko in October, but Bellator has not had another middleweight tournament since. The tournament format is how Bellator determines its title contenders, so there is currently no one on tap to challenger Lombard.
Vitale (28-9) may, however, prove to be one of Lombard’s toughest tests to date, despite the belt waiting in the wings. The Hawaiian has been fighting professionally since 1999, competing in organizations such as Rings, SuperBrawl, King of the Cage, Strikeforce, and the UFC.
He has defeated the likes of former UFC middleweight champion Dave Menne, current UFC contender Yushin Okami, and former UFC contender Matt Lindland.
There has been no location locked down for Bellator 44.