Hector Lombard: Bellator FC and CFC Champ Sits Down for an Exclusive Interview

Ed Kapp@https://twitter.com/EdKappAnalyst IJuly 14, 2011

“I fight because I want to prove something. I want to prove something to myself and I want to, you know, prove something to the people,” said Hector Lombard in an exclusive interview with Ed Kapp, “That’s why every true fighter wants to fight.”

While it seems the majority of mixed martial artists compete for reasons like money and fame, Lombard has long fought to prove to both himself and everyone else that he is “the best in the world.” Currently riding an impressive win-streak, Lombard, who is undefeated in his past 23 contests, has his sights set on a potential match with former UFC middleweight, Nate Marquardt—a prospect that the American Top Team middleweight feels will further bolster his reputation in the world of mixed martial arts.

Born and raised in Cuba, Lombard, who began grappling at age 10, spent much of his youth working to excel in judo—his sport of choice.

After a few laughs at his first day of training, Lombard quickly thereafter made the sport a top priority.

A three time College National Champion judoka in the early- to mid-‘90s, Lombard was also, from 1999 to 2001, a gold medal winner at the Cuban National Championships.

In 2000, Lombard, in an experience that he nonchalantly refers to as “no big deal,” represented the Cuban Olympic judo squad at the Summer Games in Sydney, Australia. Shortly thereafter, Lombard would leave Cuba and make Australia is new home.

Although Lombard, who previously worked as a security guard in Australia, began training years ago, it wasn’t until he moved to America in 2009 that he saw what a life in mixed martial arts could include.

“When I moved to America, that’s when I decided that I wanted to do this. MMA in Australia wasn’t that big and not many people knew about it, but here, everyone knows about the sport. It was, like, inspiring to fight; fans knew what fighting was all about and they were very passionate about the sport.”

“I didn’t know that I would be able to live the life that I have today. To be honest, when I started, I was doing another job and going to the gym. When I came here, though, it was a completely different game. And I liked it ... I wouldn’t even listen to somebody if they told me, when I started, that I would be living this life [laughs].”

Since making his professional debut in late-2004, Lombard, who only holds two blemishes on his professional record—decision losses to Akihiro Gono and Gegard Mousasi, in April and November of 2006, respectively—has established himself, in the opinion of many, as one of mixed martial arts’ scariest middleweight contenders.

For the better half of the last decade, Lombard, en route to being the current Cage Fighting Championship (CFC) and Bellator FC middleweight champions, has made light work out of the majority of his competition.

Since aligning himself with American Top Team in South Florida a few years ago, however, Lombard insists that his game has since risen to an unprecedented level.

“I always wanted to be a part of American Top Team, to be honest. It was always in my mind to come to American Top Team. It’s a gym, where, you don’t have to travel to do anything—everything is here. I only train here.”

“They have played a huge part in my career—I wouldn’t be where I am now without them.”

According to one a teammate at American Top Team, Lombard—who he referred to as “the closest thing in MMA to Mike Tyson”—has only improved since moving to South Florida.

During the same conversation, the long-time American Top Team representative said that the man they call “Lightening” would—not could—beat current UFC champion Anderson Silva—a match that many fans have wanted to see for quite some time now.

Conversely, many of the same fans have long criticized Lombard for fighting, what they perceive to be, lesser-opponents than he would face in the UFC. Lombard, however, argues that he isn’t fazed by the criticism and further contests that he, although not in the Octagon, is in fact fighting many of the sport’s top talents—while preferring not to speak about the prospect of fighting in the UFC entirely.

“I’m happy with Bellator, so I’m not going to talk about the UFC. I’m happy where I am right now.”

“But people will criticize me all the time. They always say, you know, ‘Oh, he fights nobodies.’ Well, the last fighter—Falaniko Vitale—he just beat Yushin Okami, right? Yushin Okami is about to fight for the UFC belt and the last guy that I beat, beat Yushin Okami—a guy that beat Anderson Silva,” said Lombard, who holds victories over UFC veterans Daiju Takase, James Te-Huna, Brian Ebersole, Kalib Starnes, Jay Silva, Joe Doerksen, and Vitale, “People are always saying that I fight nobodies, though.”

Despite his confusion, Lombard doesn’t appear to be bothered by the criticism.

“I’ve always wondered why people are quick to criticise me, but it just motivates me to train harder and prove the haters that they’re wrong. I have a lot of people that believe in me, too, but I have a lot of guys that have always doubted me.”

In August, Lombard, who will be going back to Australia to defend his CFC middleweight championship against former ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ competitor Jesse Taylor, will have another opportunity to try to prove his “haters” wrong.

While he insists that he isn’t looking past Taylor, Lombard, in what will be his 34th professional contest, appears to be more than confident heading into his bout in August.

“I’m not saying he’s not going to be a challenge—I can’t underestimate him. He’s got some good wins under his belt—he just beat Denis Kang ... I’m going to whip his ass, though. I’m fighting Jesse Taylor and I’m going to win.”

In the more distant future, Lombard will be looking to defend his championship in Bellator—with one specific opponent in mind.

“I hope that you guys make a lot of noise so Nate Marquardt can take the fight with me. We’re going to have a lot of people interested in that fight ... We’re going to generate a lot of money, because a lot of people are interested. People want to see me fight against a guy like that and a lot of people are going to watch the fight for that reason.”

Although the commercial appeal of a proposed Lombard-Marquardt match under the Bellator banner is an exciting prospect for “Lightening,” he believes that a win over “The Great” would solidify his status as one of the best mixed martial artists in the world.

“That would be the fight of my life. That’s the fight that’s going to get me the respect that I deserve. After a win, the haters would give me respect.”

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