I’ve always been a big supporter of the fighters, and while I rarely talk it about here, I’m also a big supporter of the men and women who fight for our country. Damien Stelly, who’s fighting tonight in the first round of Bellator’s middleweight tournament, just happens to be both.

Damien Stelly is used to fighting for his country in Afghanistan, but this Friday, April 17th Damien “The Omen” Stelly will step into battle alone at Bellator Fighting Championships, which will air nationally through its exclusive TV agreement with ESPN Deportes.

Joining the army right out of high school, Sergeant Stelly and his fellow troops were one of the first groups to be deployed in Operation Enduring Freedom after Sept. 11, 2001. According to an Air Force Times article, Damien Stelly had twice turned down the chance to join UFC, choosing instead to serve in Afghanistan with his fellow Army Rangers. To date, Stelly has completed three tours in Afghanistan.

Although an All American wrestler in high school, Stelly didn’t begin fighting until he joined the army, with his first combative exposure coming during the Ranger indoctrination program. Later he picked up Muay Thai and Jiu-Jitsu styles to better round his skills during his MMA training.

Stelly faces off against Alex Andrade tonight at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Oklahoma at Bellator III.