Today was a day filled with undesirable news for the UFC (Overeem denied a license, Sonnen/Silva fight being moved from Brazil), but there was one breaking news story that saved the day. Hector Lombard signed with the world's number one MMA promotion.
Before getting into Hector Lombard, I'd actually like to commend Bjorn Rebney. He easily could have drug the contract situation out with Lombard like the NBA CBA deal this past summer, but instead he realized that signing Lombard wasn't in the cards and promptly declined to sign the 34 year-old fighter that hasn't tasted defeat in his last 25 fights.
Dream fights of Hector Lombard against the UFC's finest have taken place in the vivid imaginations of MMA fans since he dominated the inaugural Bellator Middleweight Tournament. Thanks to the UFC's big checkbook that dream has become a reality. Finally, the question of how Hector Lombard would fare in the UFC will finally be answered.
Analysis on how Hector Lombard will fair in the UFC along with potential fights after the break.
Built like a stocky NFL running back, Hector Lombard is going to pose a lot of problems for many of the fighters in the UFC. He has one of the most well-rounded offensives in the middleweight division.
His striking game is defined by his unbelievable power that'd be considered strong for a Light Heavyweight. That strength combined with his surprising speed makes one of the most formidable striking offenses in MMA. The most overlooked part of Lombard's game are his brutal leg kicks that rival those of Pat Barry from just a sheer force standpoint.
The reason why he gets away with throwing an abundance of looping hooks is because of his ability to change levels. I don't have any statistical evidence to back it up, but Lombard surely has to have one of the highest hook to straight punch ratio in MMA.
"The offensive capabilities of Lombard don't stop on the feet. His strength helps him dominate the clinch game and take his opponents down where he does a fantastic job of controlling the position.
Lombard's wild barrage of hooks that usually finish his opponents has become synonymous with Lombard, but it could also be his worst enemy. Whenever he goes all in with the onslaught of strikes he opens himself up to take-downs and counter strikes, especially against top level middleweights.
"Shango" also needs to control the pace of the fight in order to find success in the UFC. He fought a dangerously close fight against Falaniko Vitale in the first two rounds of their May 14th clash last year under a Bellator. It was so close because Lombard fought a bit passive, and that could hurt him if he respects his opponent too much and doesn't set the pace.
The success of Lombard in the UFC lies in the hands of Joe Silva. I don't foresee a UFC Middleweight Championship in the future for Lombard, but there are excellent stylistic match-ups for him against some of the company's top middleweight.
From Lombard's perspective, the perfect fight for him would be against Michael Bisping, a top ten middleweight. Bisping is a talented fight, but stylistically it's a nightmare for Bisping. Bisping is one of the division's biggest names and a win over him would propel Lombard to fight for the middleweight crown.
I'll separate it into four categories: statement opponent, business perspective, best possible fight, and fight I'd love to see.
I'm also not going to use the following top middleweights due to having bouts that are scheduled after UFC on FOX 3: Anderson Silva, Chael Sonnen, Vitor Belfort, Tim Boetsch, Michael Bisping, Wanderlei Silva, and Cung Le.
Statement Win: Keith Jardine
Although his last fight was in Strikeforce, Keith Jardine would be a perfect fight for Lombard if the UFC wants him to have a dominating performance while getting acquainted to the UFC. Jardine has a name and is a scrappy fighter. Lombard should be able control where the fight goes and dominate it with an impressive debut finish.
Business Perspective: Brian Stann
Brian Stann is becoming one of the recognizable middleweights in the UFC with his ability to cut a great promo and his engaging personality. A fight against Brian Stann is winnable for Lombard, and it'd add great depth to a PPV card or be a quality co-main or main event for a FX show.
Best Fight: Mark Munoz
Munoz's last win over Leben caps off what has been an impressive four fight win streak for Munoz who is climbing up the middleweight mount after being knocked off by Okami. Munoz is the most talented fighter that doesn't have a scheduled fight right now, and this fight would determine a potential no. 1 contender for the UFC Middleweight Championship.
Fight I'd Love To See: Robbie Lawler
This fight would already penciled in for KO and Fight of the Night for whichever event it took place. Both guys have great power in their punches and love to strike. I think it'd mirror the Lawler/Manhoef fight in Strikeforce two years ago.
Honestly, I'm pretty much fine with any possible match-up Joe Silva could throw Lombard's way. Lombard's only quality opponent (top 25) in his past ten fights is Alexander Shlemenko. Nonetheless, it'll be fun to finally get the answer to the question of whether Lombard is truly a top middleweight.
Now, it'd be great if we could get Eddie Alvarez in the octagon.