Hector Lombard came into the UFC with a ton of hype. The plan was for him to roll over Tim Boetsch, count off a couple of quick victories over some quasi-contenders, and then finally get a shot at the big dog. Realistically, if he had emerged from UFC 149 with a win, Lombard likely would have been a match or two away from a title shot.
We all know what ended up happening, though. Boetsch took the decision and, more importantly, Lombard looked completely stifled throughout. The road to a middleweight title got a little more bumpy.
Coming off his dominant knockout victory over Rousimar Palhares, Lombard recently opened up about how he saw things shaking out for him in the foreseeable future.
“Let's cut the bulls**t, let's be honest, they won't give me Anderson Silva,” he told Ben Harvy recently. “We have to be realistic and talk about things that might happen…I've got to take one fight at a time and one-by-one I can take them out and by the end of the year people are going to say he deserves the title shot…I want it to just be my hard work. I want people to say that no one deserves the title more than him.''
That’s an admirable stance. Lombard is right, he needs to take it one fight at a time. The middleweight division is very questionable these days, so if he bounces back with a win against Yushin Okami, he’ll be right on track for a shot at Silva. Maybe a win versus Chris Weidman or Michael Bisping (if Bisping loses to Vitor Belfort) away. The real question is whether he even has what it takes to beat Silva at the moment. Obviously Lombard’s knockout power is no joke, and when he gets moving he’s like a truck, but Silva’s reach advantage (77 inches-69 inches) is off the charts. It's definitely an interesting showdown to think about.
The cancelation of UFC 151 has been and will continue to be the promotion’s biggest black eye in recent memory. It basically exposed to the world how thin the UFC’s cards had gotten as of late; that, sans Jon Jones, the PPV really and truly wasn’t worth buying. Dana White famously had some harsh words for Jones as a result of what transpired, and he doesn’t seem to be stepping back from any of that criticism all these months later.
"The PR department hates me," he said (via MMA Mania). "They're always pissed at me. I'm always saying stuff before [I should].
“That's a little diva there -- being treated like a piece of meat?" White continued shortly thereafter. "I think [Jones] was being a diva. It is what it is."
Jones has made it clear on multiple occasions over the past year that he realizes how privileged he is to be in his current position, to command the sort of paydays he commands. He isn’t Dan Henderson – he won’t just fight anyone willy nilly. Would it have been great if he went into old school Bones mode and just fought whoever on short notice? Of course – but that’s not him anymore. He realizes that championship reigns (particularly at light heavyweight and above) can be short. He didn’t and doesn’t want to lose his belt (and by extension the big paydays) by being reckless. That doesn’t make him a diva.
During a recent interview with ESPN, Vitor Belfort discussed his upcoming showdown against Michael Bisping. Somehow, the subject turned to TRT. When asked if he has ever used or will ever consider using TRT, Belfort said this:
“If a question is private, I have the choice to answer or not. If I make it public, it’s not private anymore. If I want to say something private I will say it, but I keep to myself and I respect the laws of the sport. Whatever the organization, whatever the law -- they know what to do. This is too controversial, why am I going to say something that doesn’t accomplish anything? If it’s legal, they know what to do. If it’s legal, there’s nothing to say about it. It’s legal.”
Ah...make of that what you will.