What happened? UFC 149 in Calgary was supposed to be Hector Lombard’s coming-out party; it was supposed to be an announcement of his intention to take Anderson Silva’s middleweight crown. Instead, his performance against Tim Boetsch was an inexplicable display of passivity from one of MMA’s most recklessly aggressive fighters.
How best to explain the bizarrely apathetic approach of the Cuban? Much has been made of so-called "Octagon jitters," the strange disease that so often ails Japan-based fighters. But Hector Lombard is a vastly experienced competitor, having competed on the lofty Olympic stage.
It seems strange that so well-travelled a fighter would freeze up. Then again, perhaps the performance of Tim Boetsch isn’t getting the credit it deserves.
In my preview of the fight earlier this week, I suggested that "The Barbarian" may have to bank on a little technique in order to get the job done. I certainly didn’t expect the stocky wrestler to get on the balls of his feet and counter the flat-footed Lombard for the entirety of the fight, but that is largely what happened.
That’s not to say that Boetsch looked like Juan Manuel Marquez out there, but he effectively shut down the plodding former Bellator champ, without ever really landing anything big.
It was suggested by Joe Rogan that Lombard may have experienced an "adrenaline dump," in much the same way Jason "Mayhem" Miller did against Michael Bisping. There may be something to that hypothesis, given the hype surrounding the former Olympic judoka this week.
One could argue that Lombard exerted too much energy during the pre-fight pageantry. He looked listless and short of ideas, slowly shuffling forward with all the energy of a heavyweight in the final moments of a 25-minute slugfest.
I feel all of the above may be clutching at straws, however. A much simpler explanation is that Hector Lombard is not nearly as good as we thought. Sure, he looked spectacular in Bellator, but is it a coincidence that he failed to deliver as soon as he faced stiffer opposition?
One wonders whether Dana White and Joe Silva already regret their expensive acquisition of the former Bellator middleweight king, not to mention their decision to decorate him in all sorts of UFC apparel. They certainly won’t be rushing to give him Anderson Silva. Heck, he may not even get Mark Munoz after last night’s display.
But look on the bright side, Hector. At least your fight was better than Shawn Jordan vs. Cheick Kongo. Well, marginally better.