Photo via Bellator.
We posted last week that the UFC had offered Bellator Middleweight champ Hector Lombard a contract and that Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney would decide whether or not to match the offer this week. Well the suspense is over. MMA Fighting's Mike Chiappetta is reporting that Bellator is letting Lombard move on up to the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Lombard was one of the first fighters Rebney signed when he launched Bellator in 2008. Lombard went 8-0 with 7 KO's in Bellator, winning the MW title in the promotion's inaugural tournament in 2009. Lombard defended the title once against Alexander Shlemenko in 2010 and had four non-title fights while holding the title.
During his time in Bellator, Lombard defended the Cage Fighting Championship MW title twice and won the Australian Fighting Championship title in 2011. His overall MMA record is 31-2-1 with 1 NC. He is 34-years-old and was a Judo Olympian with Cuba in 2000. He has since become an Australian citizen.
Lombard's tenure with Bellator has to be regarded as a mixed success for the fighter who drew several good paydays while remaining free to fight in his home of Australia. Lombard also raised his profile somewhat with American fans. On the negative side, he did little to test himself while with America's #2 MMA promotion and will likely be thrown into the deep end by the UFC.
Rebney's reasoning for not matching the UFC's contract offer is after the jump...
"We have a business model where we make decisions based on analyzing data. Since the first day we came into being, we made decisions based on real models, not hypotheticals. The UFC model is largely based on pay-per-view, and the offer they made to Hector is going to be monetized via pay-per-view. While pay-per-view could play a role in our future, today it doesn't. So, we did our due diligence to review the UFC contract, analyze it in terms of charging our audience to see Hector vs. putting him on free TV, and we decided to allow the UFC to sign Hector, where I am extremely confident he will win the UFC middleweight title on pay-per-view," Rebney told Chiappetta.
"He was a great fighter here, and there's no doubt in my mind he'll be a great fighter when he goes to the UFC," Rebney said. "I've said for a long time he's the best middleweight in the world, and I think he'll win the UFC title in short order."