CHICAGO, Ill. (July 16, 2010) - Eddie "The Manic Hispanic" Sanchez, the heavy-handed UFC veteran known for his electrifying, swing-for-the-fences style, was officially added today to Bellator's upcoming eight-man Season 3 Heavyweight Tournament.
The 27-year-old Southern California native enters the tournament with an overall pro record of 12-3 including eight wins via KO or TKO. He is now in the midst of a four-fight win streak that includes his devastating 10-second KO of Jay White during Bellator 7 in 2009 and the miraculous come-from-behind TKO victory over colorful brawler Marcus Sursa at Bellator 20 in San Antonio on May 27th.
Sanchez appeared headed for a shocking defeat after Sursa dropped him to the canvas with a massive right hand to the jaw early in the fight's second round.
Clinging to Sursa on the canvas - absorbing punishment seemingly seconds from defeat - Sanchez somehow regained his composure, took the dominant position on the ground and wore Sursa down with relentless ground-and-pound as the round came to a close.
Seemingly rejuvenated, Sanchez came out with a vengeance in the third and final round, knocking Sursa to the mat early before finishing him with a flurry of blows to the head.
"In that fight, Eddie demonstrated that he has great heart and drive," Bellator founder and CEO Bjorn Rebney said. "With that kind of attitude and his solid MMA game, Eddie's a dangerous and exciting addition to our Heavyweight Tournament."
Sanchez is the fifth confirmed participant in the tournament along with undefeated European finisher Damian "The Polish Pitbull" Grabowski, power-punching British behemoth Neil Grove, Seattle-area knockout artist Mike "300" Hayes and Georgia-based ground-and-pound specialist Scott Barrett. The tournament begins Aug. 12 on FOX Sports Net.
A native of the San Diego area, Sanchez once seemed headed for a career in professional baseball. He was a standout catcher at San Marcos High School and later played the same position at nearby Palomar College.
His dreams of making it to the big leagues, though, were cut short in 2002 after a near-fatal car crash that put him in the intensive care unit for more than three weeks. The car he was riding in slammed into the center divider along California's Interstate 5. Sanchez was knocked unconscious, ejected from the vehicle through the windshield and thrown more than 70 feet through the air flipping head over heels. He was taken by helicopter to a local hospital.
"They were talking about amputating my right foot because it was de-gloved like a banana," he recalled. "All of my toes were dislocated and they told me that there was a 70 percent chance of amputation. Luckily I ended up fighting my way through 12 weeks of rehab so they could save it."
Looking for a new outlet for his athletic talents, he took a friend's suggestion and began training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He quickly expanded his training to include wrestling and boxing and began his pro MMA career just a few months later by finishing each of his first six fights, including a second-round KO of BJJ and judo black belt Mario Neto at UFC 63 in Anaheim, just 80 miles north of his hometown.
"I'm in a better place right now - mentally and physically - than I have been in years, Sanchez said. "I feel like I'm in the best shape of my fighting career, and more than anything, my head is right. I belong here in this tournament with the rest of the top heavyweight talent Bellator has put together. I'm going to the Finale and I'm going to win this tournament."
Bellator Fighting Championships put yet another piece in place for its much-anticipated Season 3 Heavyweight Tournament today with the addition of one of the top free-agent heavyweight fighters in Europe, Spanish submission specialist Rogent Lloret.
The Gracie Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and M1 Global veteran has not lost a fight in more than three years and enters the Heavyweight Tournament with a 9-1-1 overall pro record. He is known for his smothering ground game - submitting six of his nine victims, including four by arm triangle choke - but also displayed his striking prowess when he KO'd Serbian MMA veteran Miodrag Petković with a devastating high head kick this past April.
Lloret is the sixth confirmed participant in the tournament along with undefeated European finisher Damian "The Polish Pitbull" Grabowski, power-punching British behemoth Neil Grove, heavy-handed UFC veteran Eddie Sanchez, Seattle-area knockout artist Mike "300" Hayes and Georgia-based ground-and-pound specialist Scott Barrett.
The tournament begins Aug. 12th on FOX Sports Net.
"Ever since we decided that we would hold a Heavyweight Tournament, we were hoping to sign Rogent Lloret," said Bellator founder and CEO Bjorn Rebney. "He was one of the top heavyweight free agents in Europe for a reason: he is devastating on the ground and has a very underrated standup attack as well. He'll be a tough draw for whomever he faces in our Heavyweight Tournament."
Rogent was born and raised near Barcelona, Spain, and lives there today.
He made his MMA debut in 2006 but first drew widespread attention in late 2008 with a dazzling first-round armbar submission of top Polish heavyweight Michal Kita at an M1 Challenge event in Finland.
"Signing with Bellator means a big step forward in my career as a fighter since it provides me the opportunity to face other great fighters in an event with major media repercussions worldwide," Lloret said. "My goal is to advance as many rounds as possible and offer exciting fights to solidify my reputation as a fighter and Bellator's as an MMA event."
For more information, visit Bellator.com, follow Bellator on Twitter @BellatorMMA or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Bellator.