Because of the divergence of criteria over what constitutes a title shot, it’s hard for fans to come up with a universal solution of who should fight Silva next.
It is an issue that has plagued the division for some time now, and a question that is asked by the commentators and fans alike: Who can stop that guy? There is always a conflict over who is deserving of the next shot, and now with Silva’s greatest rival vanquished, people are itching to know who is next in line.
Probably the most interesting prospect is Bellator champion, Hector Lombard. “Lightning” will be making his UFC debut against Tim Boetsch at UFC 149; a matchup that will help shape the contender status of the middleweight division.
Lombard is not some ordinary fighter who had a couple of good-looking fights and now has come over; he brings with him a statistical behemoth that is making his case for a chance to stomp “The Spider."
Hector Lombard is currently 31-2-1 (1). He has been fighting for eight years now, and his only losses came to him in 2006.
Since then, he has accumulated a monstrous 24-fight win streak and a few championship titles along the way. Out of his 31 fights, 24 of them he has finished. He is a well-rounded fighter, and has proven he can end a fight early.
But do all of these numbers on paper merit a title shot?
Given the history of the UFC, the promotion juggernaut is not opposed to giving outside big-namers a quick path to the title shot. Usually they will have them take one fight prior to acclimate them and to prove themselves. They did this with Jake Shields and Alistair Overeem, and it may very well happen with Lombard.
If Lombard wins over Boetsch, he all but secures a title shot based on the history of the business. If it is a split decision, it may be another story; but a decisive win would make a huge statement.
Not only that, but the marketing and business drive behind putting a finisher on a 25-fight win streak against the greatest in the world is a substantial money-maker. Both Silva and Lombard haven’t lost since 2006, and something has to give.
The argument against Lombard however, overlooks the numbers and looks at quality over quantity. With a 24-fight win streak, some fans do not believe he has fought anyone of any sort of caliber found in the UFC. People’s opinions of quality of opponents differ, but based on that logic, Lombard would have to prove himself a little more before he gets his shot.
But sometimes all it takes it one really great win to change people’s minds.
Before the Munoz vs. Weidman fight, not many people were rallying behind Weidman like they have for Mark Munoz who has been in the MMA scene longer. Not to say Weidman didn’t have his fame, but after the dominant performance he had against Munoz, it seems his name has been thrown into the hat for title shot consideration.
If Lombard can go out and knockout or submit Boetsch early, one would speculate you will see a demand for Lombard to face Silva next. Winning by unanimous decision after a dominating performance would have a similar effect, but it is better if Lombard can finish it early, or at all.
Stylistically, it is an interesting matchup. Paired with it, it’s hard to deny the intrigue behind two men with such fantastic statistical numbers. The marketing is obvious, and both men are champions. It all boils down to how fans feel about Lombard’s deserving qualities, or if he has any at all.
At the end of the day, the UFC will always try to look at it fiscally, as well as trying to be crowd-pleasing. We will have to wait and see what comes out of UFC 149, but if Lombard emerges victorious, you can bet on a strong rally for him to challenge the pound-for-pound king.