by MMAWeekly.com Staff (Photos courtesy of Bellator)
Bellator Fighting Championships kicked off its third season Thursday night at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Fla.

In the night’s main event, Bellator middleweight champion Hector Lombard took on former NFL player Herbert “Whisper” Goodman in a non-title fight. In his last outing, Lombard needed just six seconds to knockout his opponent, this time it took 38 seconds.

Lombard overwhelmed his opponent early with right hook that wobbled Goodman before following up with a brutal flurry that left Whisper unconscious on the canvas just 38 seconds into round one.

When asked about his ability to take opponents out early Lombard stated, “I train hard. I train hard every day, as hard I can.

“I’m a knockout artist, this is what I do.”

Bellator Chairman and CEO Bjorn Rebney echoed his previous sentiment about Bellator’s middleweight champion.

“I think Hector Lombard is the best middleweight in the world. I believe he beats anybody he steps in the change with.”

In an opening round heavyweight tournament fight, British knockout artist Neil Grove took on UFC veteran Eddie Sanchez. Grove’s striking skills were on display early when he connected with a devastating left hand that sent Sanchez to the canvas. Grove followed up with brutal ground and pound before eventually letting a weary Sanchez back to his feat. Standing, Grove continued to batter Sanchez with precise strikes that eventually forced the referee to halt the fight less than a minute into the opening round.

In Season 3 women’s tournament quarterfinal action, Megumi Fujii met late tournament replacement Carla Esparza. Fujii elected to stand and trade early with the wrestling specialist. The fight hit the ground for the first time midway through the first round with Fujii going for an ankle lock that Esparza painstakingly twisted out of.

Round two saw Fujii bring Esparza down early and secure a slick fight ending armbar just 57 seconds into the stanza. The Japanese sensation flexed her submission skills and subsequently improved her record to 21-0, while moving on to the semifinal round of the tournament.

Also in women’s tournament action, South Florida native Jessica Aguilar took on Lynn Alvarez. Aguilar easily took Alvarez down early in the first round, where she transitioned between ground and pound and submission attempts. Aguilar was eventually able to secure an arm triangle choke at 4:01 into the first round.

“Winning in front of my fans is all I could ask for,” said Aguilar. “I was planning to finish it as quickly as possible with little energy expended and no injuries.”

The local feature fight between hometown favorite Luis Palomino and MMA veteran Yves Edwards went all three rounds, Edwards having his hand raised in the end. Edwards now has 38 wins in his MMA career.

“Tonight proved to be another great night of fights at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. We love coming here and can not wait for our return in October when Hector Lombard will face Alexander Shlemenko for the Bellator middleweight championship,” said Rebney.

Local Feature Fights:
-Tulio Quintanilla def. Brian Eckstein by KO (Punches) at 2:48, R3
-Farkhad Sharipov def. Eric Luke by Unanimous Decision