Last night, Bellator’s Middleweight Champion Hector Lombard stormed through his opponent, Falaniko Vitale, just as he has for most of his current 23 fight winning streak over the past 5 years. When Hector lets his hands go, he’s a terrifying individual. There’s no doubt that he’s a great fighter, but is he a Top 10 fighter?
Before I get into this, it seems nowadays that you have to add this disclaimer to any Top 10 discussion (Top 10 lists are silly and subjective and don’t mean shit) or you’ll get killed by anyone who disagrees with you. Of course these lists are partially subjective, but they’re not really silly. They’re very serious. Breaking the Top 10 means you’ve made it to the top of the game. The formula for rankings is certainly not infallible. Basically you take a fighter’s proven track record and apply it. However, when there’s a conflict, you must make a judgment call based on personal opinion. But like most other things in life, when you’re working off opinions, things can get a little controversial. Either way, and however useless some may view them, rankings are fun.
MMAWeekly ranks Lombard at #9. Sherdog has him at #10. BloodyElbow has him sniffing top status at #11, and MMAFighting does not rank him in the Top 10 at all. What does this mean? Not a whole lot. To rank a fighter you have to look at his proven track record, not what you believe he can do. Hector Lombard has never beaten a Top 10 opponent, hell he hasn’t even beaten a Top 20 opponent. His placement is the rankings is based solely on perceived ability. The only time he faced a highly ranked fighter was in 2006 when he lost a unanimous decision to Gegard Mousasi. I’m not saying he doesn’t have the skills to be Top 10, I think he has the stuff to be Top 5, but I am saying as long as he’s fighting outside the UFC/Strikeforce we’ll never know for sure.
Now, maybe he doesn’t care about all that. Maybe he’s making enough money fighting in Bellator and Cage Fighting where his attitude is Zuffa and the rankings police can kiss his ass. That’s great. Ultimately, he knows what’s best for him, his career, and his future. But I just don’t see how he can be a ranked fighter. It defies logic. His winning streak is as impressive as they come, as far as numbers go. But his competition isn’t top level, not even close, and that’s what the Top 10 is all about.