UFC 166: What We Learned from Hector Lombard vs. Nate Marquardt
Marquardt was an enduring figure in the UFC's 185-lb division, maintaining his spot in the top five for years on end. Lombard, meanwhile, had one of the lengthiest unbeaten streaks in MMA history and was regarded as one of the best fighters outside the UFC until he joined the promotion.
Both of them, however, have struggled of late, and now competing at 170 lbs, each man needed a win to ensure his continued employment with the UFC.
When they met at UFC 166, Hector Lombard scored a vintage early knockout win, beating Marquardt unconscious. So what did we learn?
Hector Lombard Is a Legitimate Welterweight Title Contender
Hector Lombard fought some pathetically bad competition in Bellator. While fans wrongly claimed that Gilbert Melendez opened cans in Strikeforce, Lombard fought legitimately no-name fighters for the majority of his career.
That said, we've always known he is supremely skilled. His Olympic judo credentials speak for themselves. His hands can do a lot of talking, too. He may be built like a fire hydrant, but he was never a big middleweight, which showed in losses against huge wrestlers like Tim Boetsch and Yushin Okami.
Lombard is poised to make a serious run at the welterweight belt. If I was Dong-Hyun Kim or Tarec Saffiedine, I'd look to get a fight booked right now to keep Joe Silva from pitting me against Lombard.
Nate Marquardt's Best Days Are Long Past
It's hard to remember, but Marquardt used to be legit. He knocked out Demian Maia in 21 seconds and choked out Jeremy Horn.
Those days seem to be over.
Now riding a three-fight losing streak to Lombard, Jake Ellenberger and Saffiedine, he seems like an afterthought at this point. It's a somewhat sad development but only a little sad. It's hard to feel too much sympathy for the poster boy for TRT users with a history of steroid use.
Marquardt Is Probably Headed to Bellator
Once again, he has three losses in a row, and none of them has been especially competitive. It also doesn't help that he got booted from the UFC in 2011.
Marquardt isn't the worst fighter on the UFC's roster, but it is tough to rationalize keeping him in light of the UFC's recent crackdown on less-than-marketable gatekeepers. At this point, though, he may not even be a gatekeeper.
The Best Hector Lombard May Be Yet to Come
Lombard may have gone undefeated from 2007 until 2012, but he wasn't physically built to dominate at 185 lbs in the UFC. The move to 170 lbs will let us see how good he really is.
We know he has hands, and we know he has grappling. The only question mark that remains for him is cardio. If he can put forward three strong rounds, expect him to blow away the competition and become a major player at welterweight.
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