Hector Lombard came into the UFC riding a 25-fight unbeaten streak and a tidal wave of hype. He was the Bellator middleweight champ and viewed as one of a handful of fighters that had a shot at taking out the pound-for-pound greatest fighter in the world, Anderson Silva.
And the UFC paid him handsomely based on those assumptions.
However, Lombard has yet to be able to live up to the seemingly unrealistic expectations.
In his promotional debut at UFC 149, Lombard fought Tim Boetsch. The fight was supposed to act as a springboard to a quick title shot, but "the Barbarian" had other plans.
Lombard looked flat and was never able to overwhelm Boetsch. He lost the fight via split decision. Almost overnight, one of the hottest MMA fighters turned ice-cold.
Lombard reignited excitement with a first-round knockout of Rousimar Palhares, but the fire quickly died down again after "Lightning" dropped another split decision to former middleweight title contender Yushin Okami.
That loss put Lombard's UFC record at 1-2 and officially sent his hype train careening off the rails.
In April, Lombard announced on UFC Tonight (h/t MMAWeekly.com) that he would attempt to cut the 15 pounds necessary to get to welterweight. However, it remains unclear whether the bulky middleweight will actually be able to make the 171 minimum.
It's crucial that Lombard's cut is successful because the UFC won't continue paying him the $300,000 flat show fee to compete at middleweight.
Even if Lombard is able to make 170, questions still surround what effect (if any) the cut will have on his speed and more importantly his power.
Regardless, Lombard needs to string together a couple of wins to not only justify his high salary, but also to legitimately bounce back into title contention.
It is unlikely that the UFC will pair Lombard with a top-10 opponent in his welterweight debut, but rather look to put him in a situation where he'll come out victorious.
These five fighters are in the same boat as Lombard. They've previously fought at middleweight and are also desperately in need of a win to avoid the proverbial axe.
None of the matchups will be slam dunks for Lombard, but it is imperative that "Lightning" strikes if he wants to stay under the UFC banner.