Hector Lombard leaves Bellator

Updated: April 25, 2012, 7:14 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

Bellator middleweight champion Hector Lombard has abdicated his title to join the UFC.

"I am in the UFC it is official," Lombard tweeted on Tuesday. Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney later confirmed the news to MMAFighting.com.

Lombard's move to the UFC had seemed imminent, as UFC president Dana White had openly expressed interest in the 34-year-old fighter. Lombard was originally scheduled to make his Octagon debut against Karo Parisyan at UFC 78 but was forced to pull out due to visa issues.

Lombard, 31-2, spent the bulk of his career on the Australian fight circuit before graduating to Bellator, where he became the organization's first and only 185-pound titlist. His only losses came in 2006 while campaigning in Japan for PRIDE FC.

A black belt in judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Lombard represented Cuba as a judoka in the 2000 Olympics. Since 2009, he's stopped 12 of 15 opponents and has earned a reputation as a fearsome puncher.

Lombard currently resides in Miami, where he trains out of the American Top Team facility.

"He was a great fighter [in Bellator], and there's no doubt in my mind he'll be a great fighter when he goes to the UFC," Rebney told MMAFighting.com. "I've said for a long time he's the best middleweight in the world, and I think he'll win the UFC title in short order."