UFC 171: Jake Shields vs. Hector Lombard Head-to-Toe Breakdown
The winner of a UFC 171 bout between Carlos Condit and Tyron Woodley is most likely to produce the next welterweight title challenger.
Still, a Saturday matchup between Jake Shields and Hector Lombard will also be important in sorting out the landscape of a Georges St-Pierre-less 170-pound class.
With wins over Woodley and Demian Maia since returning to the division, Shields is the No. 6-ranked contender. Because his fight with the NCAA All-American wrestler was so closely contested and due to his lack of finishes, Shields appears to have fallen behind Woodley in the race for a shot at UFC gold.
At UFC 166, Lombard made a successful move to the 170-pound class. Following a disappointing loss to middleweight Yushin Okami, Lombard rebounded by stopping Nate Marquardt with strikes in the first round.
Will the former Strikeforce champion or former Bellator MMA champion take a step closer to the UFC Welterweight Championship? Here is a closer look at how Shields and Lombard match up in all areas.
Having already stopped Nate Marquardt and Rousimar Palhares since joining the UFC roster, Hector Lombard is one of the scariest knockout artists in the welterweight division.
Jake Shields has one of the better chins at 170 pounds. In the past 14 years, he has only been finished once and survived Dan Henderson's "H-Bomb" en route to a decision win over the former Pride FC champion under the Strikeforce banner.
With an underrated kicking game, Shields should be able to keep Lombard out of punching range enough to avoid taking too many big shots.
Lombard is the better striker in this matchup. He might not have too many chances to score a knockout blow, though, as Shields will be looking for takedowns from start to finish.
Jake Shields' success usually depends on his ability to take his opponent to the ground.
The former Strikeforce champion scored takedowns in three of his four UFC wins. He barely walked away with a victory in his bout with Tyron Woodley, whom he was unable to ground.
An excellent judoka, Hector Lombard is usually able to sprawl and brawl against most grapplers. However, Yushin Okami took the Cuban down three times at UFC on Fuel TV 8, which prompted Lombard's move to the welterweight division.
Having had plenty of success in the middleweight class, Shields is no small 170-pounder, and he once outwrestled Okami on his way to a decision win in April 2006. That was a long time ago, but he has aged just as well as Okami and should be able to replicate what the Japanese fighter did against Lombard.
When Jake Shields gains the top position, he usually keeps it for the rest of the round.
Having never been submitted, he is outstanding defensively on the ground as well, which allows him to focus on controlling his opponent.
While Hector Lombard has a strong ground game that he doesn't use often, the former Bellator MMA champion was shut down on the canvas by Yushin Okami and likely won't generate much offense from the bottom against Shields.
Since Lombard has also never been submitted, Shields probably isn't going to take any more risks on the ground than he usually does. That could result in some uneventful grappling, but it'll allow him to coast to a win, as long as he gets this fight to the mat often enough.
As Mike Goldberg would say, everything else is virtually identical.
Jake Shields and Hector Lombard both last appeared in October, so rust should not be an issue for either man. The welterweights both have experience in going five rounds, so Saturday's three-round affair shouldn't push their conditioning much.
Despite being three inches taller, Shields has a reach that is nearly identical to Lombard's. That will prevent him from completely neutralizing Lombard's striking with his jab.
You don't like typical Jake Shields fights?
We're getting another one on Saturday. He is going to grind his way to a decision win over Hector Lombard on the ground. Even in the unlikely event that he's forced to stand, Shields should be able to land more frequently with his kicks and take a shot from Lombard while forcing the clinch.
It isn't going to cause many to scream for him to get a shot at the welterweight championship, but the former Strikeforce titleholder will take another step forward this weekend.
Shields defeats Lombard by unanimous decision.
Statistics via FightMetric.com.