After a disappointing stint at middleweight to begin his UFC career, Lombard has re-emerged as a legitimate contender at welterweight. His knockout of Nate Marquardt at UFC 166 made this notion a talking point among mixed martial arts fans and critics, and his 15-minute romp of Shields on Saturday solidified it.
Despite his displeasing, methodical style, Shields has defeated the likes of Carlos Condit, Dan Henderson, Tyron Woodley, Yushin Okami and 25 others throughout his professional career. The dude can fight, and he can defeat high-level opposition.
But he could do nothing to Lombard Saturday evening in Dallas.
Lombard won the stand-up and the grappling battle, securing an easy decision victory.
With the win, he dives into title contention inside the UFC's welterweight division, which is a surprising development after his uninspiring 1-2 stint at 185 pounds earlier in his UFC career.
What we'll remember about this fight
Lombard outgrappled Shields.
Coming into the fight, many people saw two possible outcomes: an early Lombard knockout or a grinding Shields decision.
They were wrong.
Another big throw for Lombard. This is ridiculously amazing and impressive.— Kevin Iole (@KevinI) March 16, 2014
Lombard threw Shields around the Octagon and thoroughly dismantled him on the feet, cruising to a well-earned unanimous-decision victory.
What we learned about Lombard
Lombard's cardio can hold up for 15 minutes against an elite grappler.
That's good news in a division that is dominated by strong wrestlers.
Additionally, he still flexes his judo black belt from time to time. Previously, "Lightning" fell into the trap of relying too much on his vicious knockout power, but he cleverly mixed up his grappling and striking in this one. The combination was too much for Shields to handle.
Well done, Mr. Lombard. You are for real. After all this time, you are ready for the big show.
What we learned about Shields
His one-dimensional skill set has no power here.
Against Lombard, he looked to grapple—and only grapple—and his face (and record) suffered.
Head kicks are a terrible idea for Shields.— Michael Stets (@Michael_Stets) March 16, 2014
Lombard teed off at will on the feet and controlled the fight from top position once it hit the mat. He tossed around Shields like an inexperienced teenager during his first grappling lesson, and aside from a late guillotine attempt, the former Strikeforce champ mounted precisely zero offense.
For Shields, who could have made a splash and staked his claim for a welterweight title shot with a win, this was a supremely disappointing effort.
What's next for Lombard?
The win was excellent, but he needs one more before he receives a title shot. If neither Carlos Condit nor Tyron Woodley looks impressive later in the evening, Lombard should receive the winner in a No. 1 contender's bout.
Alternatively, Rory MacDonald needs a fight. That makes sense, too.
What's next for Shields?
If Shields doesn't get Jon Fitch'ed (or Yushin Okami'ed)—that is, cut after one loss and a series of lackluster wins—I foresee a fight with the loser of Condit vs. Woodley on the horizon.
That, however, might be too kind after his completely uninspired performance.
Rick Story also lost earlier in the evening at UFC 171, and he may prove a more reasonable opponent moving forward for Shields.
Either way, it is clear that he removed himself far from title contention with his poor showing Saturday evening.