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|Monroe lands MMA event|
Bellator Fighting Championships will present the Mixed Martial Arts middleweight world championship semi-finals Friday, May 29, at Monroe Civic Center.
Winners of the semi-finals will be awarded $50,000 each, and a chance to fight in the final championship next month.
ESPN will be on hand to tape the event, which will be broadcast worldwide May 30.
"We're very excited about this opportunity to have world-class mixed martial artists in our community," said Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo. "These outstanding fighters coming to Monroe are certainly second to none."
"We encourage all citizens throughout Ouachita Parish, our region and state to come to Monroe and join us," Mayo said. "We're going to pack the house. We're going to make sure every seat is taken."
"This will be one of the biggest events in the city's history as related to the coverage we will receive countrywide and also worldwide," he said. "We will have the opportunity to showcase Monroe and Ouachita Parish to the world. The worldwide coverage from the city of Monroe will simply be awesome."
Promoter Kerry Daigle of Keep Punching Entertainment said, "This is one of the biggest shows Bellator is doing anywhere in the world and they're bringing it right here to Monroe. That's international exposure for Monroe, La. It will be something like you've never seen. Some of the best athletes in the world competing for $50,000 in the semi-finals."
After an uppercut knockout at Bellator III, Cuban Olympian Hector "Shango" Lombard returns to middleweight tournament action to compete against Army Ranger Damien Stelly, who is coming off a victory against veteran Alex "El Toro" Andrade. Also competing for the $50,000 prize and the chance to appear in the Bellator middleweight world championships is undefeated Oklahoma wrestling phenom Jared Hess. He will take on the veteran Yosmany Cabezas. Both fighters are returning from upset victories. Hess defeated Spanish superstar Daniel Tabera and Cabezas eliminated Mexican legend Edwin Aguilar.
The two winners from the middleweight semi-finals at Bellator IX at the Monroe Civic Center will compete in the Bellator middleweight world championships finals in June.
"The stunning first round of the middleweight tournament generated three upset victories with MMA veterans losing to spectacular new talents to the sport, demonstrating how unpredictable our tournament format can be," said Bellator Fighting Championships CEO Bjorn Rebney. "We could not be more pleased to be bringing our nationally and internationally televised series featuring our biggest and most powerful competitors to Monroe and the magical state of Louisiana."
In addition to the tournament, undercard fights will feature undefeated Nick Ring taking on veteran Isidro "Chilo" Gonzalez and Ultimate Fighter participant Noah Thomas taking on Canadian standout Ben Greer.
Tickets for the event are available at Monroe Civic Center Box Office and at all Ticketmaster outlets. For Ticketmaster tickets, visit www.ticketmaster.com or charge by phone at 1-800-745-3000. Tickets will be $15 for general admission, and $25 and $40 for seats.
Members of all military branches will be admitted free to the event if they show up in uniform. Free admission is for all reserve, active and veteran military personnel.
For more information, call Monroe Civic Center Box office at 329-2338.