The mention of Hector Lombard’s name has been inspiring heated debate amongst hardcore MMA fans for a few years now. Normally, that debate was whether or not he was a Top 10 middleweight.
Supporters pointed to his stellar record of 31-2 with one draw and one no-contest, as well as his current 20-fight win streak—16 of which he finished before the final buzzer.
Detractors point out that his record is padded with low-level fighters, and that the only time he faced top opposition—in the PRIDE 2006 Welterweight Grand Prix—he lost to Akihiro Gono and Gegard Mousasi.
Both sides have an argument, but the detractor’s is much stronger. Lombard’s record is impressive, but so was Jason Reinhardt’s before he arrived in the Octagon.
Since being signed by the UFC in April, the debate has been changed to whether or not Lombard deserves a title shot if he defeats Tim Boetsch at UFC 149—an idea tossed about publicly by Dana White.
Middleweight contenders Michael Bisping and Mark Munoz have been vocal in their condemnation of the idea. To them, it’s a question of simple fairness.
Why should a guy who has been beating low-level fighters outside of the UFC get a title shot after one win when they’ve been grinding it out in the UFC, fighting the best for years?
It’s a fair question. It’s just being asked in an unfair world.
Lombard doesn’t deserve a title shot, per se, but there are other factors involved: the lack of a clear-cut No. 1 contender, for starters.
Michael Bisping may make a strong point against Lombard, but the fact remains that he’s coming off a loss to Chael Sonnen, and typically a fighter has to build up a little streak before earning a title shot. Bisping will get his chance to rebound when he takes on Brian Stann at UFC 152.
Munoz is currently out of the title picture after getting steamrolled by Chris Weidman. And the general consensus on Weidman is that he’s not quite ready for a title shot.
That leaves only two guys: Hector Lombard, or his opponent, Tim Boetsch—who is being completely overlooked in all this drama.
Since dropping to middleweight, Boetsch has posted a solid 3-0 record, including a TKO win over former top contender, Yushin Okami. An impressive win over Lombard, and Boetsch would be as deserving a challenger as there is at 185.
Having so many worthy challengers at middleweight makes the division seem rather chaotic, but that’s a high-class problem.
Wasn’t long ago that middleweight was neck and neck with heavyweight as the weakest division in the sport. In fact, right around the time Lombard was losing in PRIDE, a relatively unknown Brazilian by the name of Anderson Silva was earning himself a UFC title shot after only a single win—a brutal knockout over Chris Leben.
But that was then, when the division was horribly shallow. This is now. And because business decisions are often based, justifiably, on expediency rather than merit, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Lombard get a title shot if he wins at UFC 149, especially if he wins impressively.
Considering 90 percent of the sport’s top talent is in the UFC, it’s nothing but speculative to proclaim top status to a fighter who made his bones outside of the UFC. Case in point: Jorge Santiago.
Hector Lombard may very well be the Second Coming. We simply do not know because he hasn’t been facing the best of the best. If he’s victorious against Boetsch, then he should have to face another top contender.
But that’s in a fair world.
In the real world, the UFC may see fit to grant him a title shot based on their business needs—and there’s nothing at all wrong with that—but he does not deserve a title shot.