This past weekend, Hector Lombard's second impression inside the octagon was far more impressive than his first impression.
As part of the UFC on FX 6 main-card, Lombard TKO'd Rousimar Palhares around three and a half minutes into their bout.
The first good sign for fans of Lombard was that it was obvious from the beginning that he came to fight this time. Lombard was easily a more aggressive fighter and he didn't show any hesitation when throwing punches; these were two things Lombard lacked in his UFC debut against Tim Boetsch a few months ago. Lombard opened a cut by Palhares' left eye early after he got Palhares' down for the first time. From there, Lombard simply overwhelmed Palhares on the ground and scored the TKO not long after the fighters were stood up.
The big question surrounding Lombard's performance is whether or not Lombard's particular motivation going into this fight was about proving himself. In other words, did his performance in losing to Boetsch wipe out everything he did in Bellator and elsewhere over the nearly six years between his last two career losses?
For UFC fans, the answer would likely be yes. For fans who watch UFC and Bellator, the answer could be mixed. What all sides can agree on is that the performance itself was something Lombard had to improve on the next time he fought. And Lombard did himself a service by putting on a more Lombard-like performance against Palhares. It generally takes a painfully embarrassing performance from a fighter to erase years of accomplishments and wins, no matter what promotion they came in. Lombard's losing debut in UFC wasn't so much that painfully embarrassing a performance as it was just a painful one for those even a little familiar with Lombard.
After the fight, Lombard wasn't hiding his ambition when he openly talked about wanting to fight Michael Bisping next. Lombard could get that wish whether Bisping defeats Vitor Belfort on January 19 or not. However, a lot of what could decide if Lombard gets Bisping next has nothing to do with him. Because Anderson Silva is the current UFC middleweight champ and Michael Bisping is a star, or someone UFC considers a star, Lombard is a non-factor in the equation involving his own next fight.
Nobody knows who Anderson Silva is going to fight next, but that decision will be felt by plenty when it is made. If the superfight with GSP is made for later this year, expect all of 2013 to turn into a big elimination tournament within the middleweight division. If that fight can't be made and Silva defends his title in his next fight, then Bisping could easily become the next challenger with a win over Belfort. If that happens, then Lombard would get someone like Belfort or Chris Weidman or Yushin Okami for his next fight. If Bisping loses to Belfort, Lombard will likely get his wish because a Bisping/Lombard fight would then be easy to make if Dana and Joe Silva want it to happen.
Right now, it's too early to tell what is going to happen next for Lombard. He'll have to pay close attention to others in the middleweight division because he literally has no idea who will be put in front of him next. He wants Bisping, but things have to happen to make that a reality. The best move for Lombard right now is to enjoy this victory and work toward running with whatever momentum the win has brought him. It's all he can do for the moment.
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