Former Bellator middleweight champion, Hector Lombard, had a lot of hype around him coming into the UFC, but he's hasn't been able to live up to the high-expectations.
Hector (32-4-1, 18 KOs) struggled in his UFC debut against Tim Boetsch (he lost a close split decision), fighting rather timidly. He didn't fare any better during his last fight against Yushin Okami, losing via split decision at the Saitama Super Arena. With the loss to Okami, Lombard is now 1-2 on MMA's biggest stage, and talks about a potential fight against middleweight kingpin, Anderson Silva, are now a thing of the past.
If a fighter struggles against the likes of Boetsch and Okami, the odds of surviving a round against "The Spider" are slim to none.
UFC veteran/Fuel TV MMA analyst, Chael Sonnen, even suggested Lombard should be released during the post-fight show and there are probably a lot of fans who agree with that sentiment right now.
Hector's deal with the UFC is believed to have netted him a $400,000 signing bonus, $300,000 per fight purse, and a cut of pay-per-view revenues, so it couldn't be any more obvious that the UFC won't hesitate to cut "Shango" if he continues to struggle inside the cage. He earns too much money to be anything less than a perennial title contender.
While it's easy to jump on Lombard for his struggles inside the Octagon, it's worth noting that his record in the UFC doesn't tell the whole story. For one, even though he lost his debut to Boetsch, many fans and experts scored the fight in his favor.
In Hector's UFC on Fuel TV 8 encounter against Okami, he fought a lot like he did during his bout against Boetsch, barely engaging and allowing his opponent to set the pace. His problem seems to be mental, as the pressures of fighting under the UFC's bright lights has made him a lot more cautious inside the cage -- something that doesn't necessarily mesh well with his style.
When he finally fought like the man who dominated Bellator's middleweight ranks for years during the final round, he instantly changed the tide of the fight, putting Okami in several tough spots. It wasn't enough to make up for the first two rounds, but it was enough to remind fans that he's one of the top middleweights in the world when he brings his A-game.
The road to redemption won't be easy for Lombard, but a few impressive stoppages would get him back into the good graces of UFC fans and officials. He can take the easy road and look for fights against opponents that match up well with his style like Chris Leben or once again try to prove his worth against rising middleweight stars like Costa Philippou.
One thing's for sure, Hector Lombard will need to be really careful about who he decides to fight next, as another loss will probably bring his UFC career to an end.