Things haven’t exactly gone as planned for Hector Lombard (33-4-1, 19 KOs) ever since he joined the UFC’s roster.
The Cuban-born Olympic judoka enjoyed an unprecedented amount of hype coming into the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and his resume as professional MMA fighter indicated he deserved it all. After losing to Gegard Mousasi late 2006, Lombard went on an impressive win streak, going 24-0-1, with 19 of his victories coming via stoppage.
Unfortunately for hardcore MMA fans — who couldn’t have been any happier to see “Lightning” inside the Octagon, Lombard didn’t live up to expectations during his UFC debut against Tim Boetsch, barely engaging during their three-rounder, losing via split decision.
A decent amount of spectators scored the fight in Lombard’s favor, this writer included, but, at the end of the day, most were disappointed with his performance regardless of who they felt was the rightful victor.
Hector redeemed himself during his next outing, manhandling Rousimar Palhares at UFC on FX 6, securing his first knockout victory inside the Octagon. However, he went back into tentative-mode during his next outing against Yushin Okami, losing another close split decision.
With pressure from UFC president Dana White acting as a catalyst, Lombard decided to drop down to the welterweight division following his loss against Okami. He made a strong statement during his debut bout in the 170-pound division, viciously putting Nate Marquardt away via knockout 1 minute, 48 seconds into the first round of their UFC 166 tilt.
Dropping down to the welterweight division seems to be a smart move — so far — for Lombard who is now set to fight Jake Shields on March 15 at UFC 171. The event will take place at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.
Hector is confident Shields (29-6-1, 10 submissions) won’t fare any better than Marquardt when the two collide.
“As long as I go to the fight healthy and make my weight right, I don’t see him being any problem,” Lombard said during an interview with MMAjunkie Radio. “I see myself knocking Jake Shields out to be honest.”
Shields has been just as impressive ever since he dropped back down to the welterweight division. He handed Tyron Woodley his first loss inside the Octagon at UFC 161, then he followed that up by handing Demian Maia his first loss in the welterweight division. The win against Maia was particularly impressive given how dominant Maia had been prior to his tilt with Shields, manhandling Dong Hyun Kim, Rick Story, and Jon Fitch.
A win against Shields would be enough to move Lombard into title contention, but it certainly won’t be easy. That fact isn’t lost on “Shango.”
“I don’t care what anyone says, he’s a very difficult fighter to fight,” Lombard added. “He doesn’t look like he’s dangerous, but you take a look at his record and you take a look at his fights, he always proves people wrong. With that said, I still believe I’m going to knock him out. I will take out anyone, just Jake Shields is next.”