In the main event, Alvarez continued to impress mixed martial arts fans, as he defeated journeyman Toby Imada by rear-naked choke 38 seconds into the second round.
The Philadelphia native came out the aggressor in the first round, as more than 4,000 fans looked on. Much of the period was spent in the clinch, with Imada landing some good knees to the body. Shortly after the start of round two, the world’s third-ranked lightweight landed a devastating right hook that sent Imada crashing to the canvas. Alvarez jumped on his fallen foe, took his back and sank the rear-naked choke for the tapout.
Imada entered the bout with plenty of momentum after he pulled off an incredible inverted triangle submission against Jorge Masvidal in the lightweight tournament semi-finals last month. In the end, the crafty veteran was no match for the ultra-talented Alvarez.
Alvarez (18-2), who had the crowd behind him throughout the fight, won all three of his tournament matches by submission. His loss to Shinya Aoki late last year now a distant memory, the charismatic 24-year-old plans to spend some time with his family and admits tournament fighting is not for everyone.
“You truly have to love fighting to do it,” he said. “You can’t be half-hearted. Your heart has to be in fighting.”
Alvarez, considered a cornerstone for the fledgling organization, earned the championship belt and a $100,000 paycheck at the end of the lightweight final; he pocketed a total of $175,000 for competing in the tournament. Imada (22-13), meanwhile, confirmed plans to return for Bellator’s second season. The defeat snapped his eight-fight winning streak.
In round one, Lombard took down Hess, but the fighters soon returned to their feet. Towards the end of the period, the Cuban judoka connected with a vicious right, which rocked Hess and caused his left eye to swell. Hess recovered, but his legs remained wobbly for the rest of the round.
Hess walked into the second round with his left eye nearly swollen shut. Unable to take down the Cuban judo national champion, Hess resorted to pulling guard -- a ploy which allowed Lombard to wear down his opponent with ground-and-pound.
Lombard -- who fed off “Hector!” chants from the crowd -- later picked up Hess, slammed him on the canvas and pounded on him, leaving a nasty gash in the middle of his forehead. The referee stopped the fight twice to check Hess’ cut, but the doctor allowed the fight to continue since the blood was not affecting his vision.
Hess (9-1-1) entered round four covered in blood. Lombard immediately took him down and connected with several punches that prompted the doctor to stop the fight; the bleeding was only getting worse.
Unbeaten in 15 fights, Lombard -- also a titleholder in Australia’s Cage Fighting Championships -- defeated James Damien Stelly and Virgil Lozano en route to the middleweight final. Like Alvarez, he banked $100,000 for defeating Hess and a total of $175,000 for the tournament.
In non-tournament action, Masvidal rebounded from his stunning defeat to Imada and outclassed Eric Reynolds on the undercard.
The American Top Team standout displayed his superior striking, as he picked apart Reynolds (10-3). Masvidal (18-4) finished the fight when he secured a double-leg takedown, captured his opponent’s back and locked in a rear-naked choke 3:33 into the third round.
Finally, EliteXC veteran Rosi Sexton needed just 3:40 to dispatch Valerie Coolbaugh. The one-time Bodog Fight and Cage Warriors champion posted her fourth consecutive victory in her Bellator debut, as she coaxed a tapout from Coolbaugh (1-3) in the first round. Sexton (10-1) has delivered seven of her 10 career wins by submission.
Fabio Mello def. Sami Aziz -- Submission (Armbar) 1:58 R3
Sergio Moraes def. Josh Martin -- Submission (Triangle Choke) 4:21 R1
Luis Palomino def. Troy Gerhart -- Unanimous Decision
Stephanie Guimaraes def. Yvonne Reis -- KO (Knee) 0:49 R1