Papa 'Shango:' Are Bellator middleweights just fighting for a chance to get beat up by Hector Lombard?


On Saturday night (Sept. 17, 2011), Bellator Fighting Championships will invade the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood Florida to put on Bellator 50.

The card will host four quarterfinals match-ups for its middleweight championship.

Former NCAA Division II wrestler Jared Hess will square off against fan favorite Bryan Baker while promotion newcomer Zelg Galesic will try to avoid being part of a spinning backfist clinic when he takes on Alexander Shlemenko.

Vitor Vianna will look to wipe the smirk off of "Smile 'N" Sam Alvey's face and move on to the next round of the tournament just as Ultimate Fighter (TUF) contestant Victor O'Donnell will look to prove that he should have made it into the house as he attempts to cool down opponent Brian Rogers, currently riding a six fight win streak.

Sounds like a fun event, right?

Everyone loves a tournament and Bellator has enjoyed recent success with this format. The fans love it and by all rights, Saturday night's show should be very exciting.

But maybe we aren't being honest with ourselves about the prize for the winner of this tournament as there's no light at the end of this tunnel.

Here's why:

Winning Bellator's middleweight tournament would be a great accomplishment. I'm not trying to degrade the tournament itself or the fighters participating. What I'm saying is this: All of these guys are just fighting for the opportunity to get beat up by Hector Lombard.

Let's look at the facts.

Two of these guys (Shlemenko and Hess) have already lost to Lombard. Albeit, the Shlemenko fight went to decision, but Lombard has vehemently claimed since that night (Oct. 28, 2010) that he was not himself and not completely healthy. After seeing what he's done to his opponents since then, it's hard to discredit him. Hess just got worked. Badly.

We've all had the conversation. "It's not you, it's me." It isn't these fighters. Not entirely. There are some really talented fighters involved in the tournament. I love watching Shlemenko fight. Baker has a tremendous upside and always brings it. Alvey is always a threat to win just because he has an unbelievable tolerance for pain and punishment.

It's not them, it's Lombard. 

"Shango" hasn't lost in his last 24 fights. Most of his wins have been devastating and fast. It's hard to believe the case will not be the same for any of these tournament combatants.

Tournaments are fun. Bellator is cool. Lombard is a monster. These dudes don't have a chance.

Am I wrong? Do any of these guys have what it takes to derail Lombard from his current path of destruction?

Bring your "A-game." 

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