Schambari, who boasts an 11-1 professional record, is in the midst of an unlikely comeback from a career-threatening injury that forced him to sit out all of 2008. He is a perfect 4-0 since his return.
“I watched Bellator last season and I just think it’s a great organization with some really, really talented and exciting fighters,” the 31-year-old Schambari said. “In this business, it’s all about finding the best possible competition and Bellator has some of the best in the world.”
Schambari is the first fighter to be signed to compete in Bellator’s eight-man Season 2 middleweight (185 lbs.) tournament. Bellator will also conduct tournaments at 145, 155, and 170 lbs. during Season 2, which begins April 8th. The winners in each division will be declared No. 1 contenders to the current roster of champions.
“Eric is a very talented middleweight with what’s commonly referred to as freak-strength,” said Bellator founder and CEO Bjorn Rebney. “Given who our middleweight champion is, that’s a vital attribute to possess. On top of that, the determination Eric’s shown during his comeback from a serious injury is inspirational and shows the kind of heart he has.”
A native of Las Vegas, Schambari was working as a lifeguard at the Bellagio hotel and casino just five years ago when he first decided to pursue MMA as a full-time profession.
“I looked at my life, I was working a casino in Las Vegas, and I thought, ‘There’s something more for me in life than this,’” Schambari recalled. “So I moved to Texas, started training and got my first fight.”
After compiling a perfect 5-0 record in various regional promotions in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Schambari moved back to Las Vegas and received an invitation to join the WEC. He won his first two fights under that promotion’s banner and then, in December 2007, lost a controversial split decision—the only loss of his career—to eventual Bellator fighter Bryan “The Beast” Baker.
Shortly thereafter, Schambari sustained a severe training injury and then had an allergic reaction to a medication that, in his own words, “nearly killed me.”
“After all that, I didn’t know if I’d be fighting again,” he admitted. “It was tough.”
Eventually, against the advice of his doctors, he began training again and, after about 14 months, returned to the cage in the best shape of his life. In the nine months since, he’s compiled a perfect 4-0 record with only one fight lasting past the first round.
Schambari says he’s excited to continue to prove himself on the national stage created by Bellator’s landscape-altering TV distribution alliance.
Each of Bellator’s 24 fights during Seasons 2 and 3 will be distributed live in primetime on Thursday nights on FOX Sports Net and its regional sports network affiliates. The top moments from each week’s live events will then be condensed into an action-packed 30-minute highlight show, broadcast every Saturday night, late night, on NBC. A one-hour highlight show will air in Spanish on Telemundo every Saturday night from midnight to 1 a.m.
For more information, please visit Bellator.com.