CHICAGO, Ill. – Bellator Fighting Championships made two more noteworthy additions to its upcoming Season 2 middleweight tournament today with the signings of 9-1-1 Bellator Season 1 tournament finalist Jared Hess and 18-4 MMA veteran Sean “The Destroyer” Loeffler.
Hess and Loeffler are the fourth and fifth confirmed participants in the eight-man middleweight tournament, joining Bryan “The Beast” Baker, Matt Major and Eric Schambari. Overall, the group boasts a combined winning percentage of .859 (55 wins, 8 losses and 1 draw).
“Jared’s potential is unlimited,” said Bellator founder and CEO Bjorn Rebney. “When his striking catches up to his strength on the ground, he could be one of the most dangerous 185 pounders in the business. On the other hand, Sean has established a great record, has earned this opportunity to fight his way to a title shot and doesn’t have a reverse gear. Perhaps more importantly, both Jared and Sean come to fight every time they step into the cage.”
Hess, 26, a former NCAA All-American wrestler at the University of Central Oklahoma, took a 6-0-1 record into Bellator Season 1 where he notched two quick victories over Daniel Tabera (rear naked choke submission) and Yosmany Cabezas (TKO) before meeting Hector Lombard in Bellator’s first-ever Middleweight Championship bout this past June. Hess took the heavily favored Lombard into the fourth round in a brutal fight that ended by doctor’s stoppage when Lombard opened a cut above Hess’ right eye.
In the 9 months since, Hess scored a first round submission win over Keith Johnson at a local show in Oklahoma City and has continued to hone his stand-up game in preparation for Bellator Season 2.
“I’m looking forward to winning the tournament and getting a chance to face Hector again,” Hess said. “I think it would be a much different outcome this time. My standup has improved by leaps and bounds since then. Add that to my wrestling and I think I’d have a distinct edge this time.”
Loeffler, 27, began training in traditional martial arts at the age of five and made his pro debut 10 years ago at the age of 17. Since then, in 22 career fights, he has gone to the second round only three times and has seen the third only once. He enters Bellator riding a five-fight win streak that includes a first-round armbar submission of former TUF participant Christian Fulgium and a 30-second TKO of local fighter Sam Salas in San Jacinto, Calif., late last month.
“I watch fights on TV and the guys are dancing around and throwing jabs. That’s not for me … that’s not MMA,” Loeffler said. “This is not ballet. It’s combat sports, so you won’t see me stalling and circling. If there’s one word to describe my fighting style, it’s violent. Win or lose, if you fight me, you’re not gonna leave looking pretty.”
Both fighters said they are also looking forward to fighting in front of a national TV audience thanks to Bellator’s historic TV distribution alliance with FOX Sports Net, NBC and Telemundo.
“Bellator’s TV deal is really second to none and something that every fighter dreams of,” Loeffler said. “I’m proud to be a part of it and excited to put on a good show for all the fans.”