It is safe to say that Hector Lombard didn’t live up to the hype in his UFC debut.

The Cuban middleweight was signed to the promotion after his contract with Bellator expired. At the time, he held the Bellator middleweight title and was riding a 20-fight winning streak. Lombard had absolutely torn though the competition, frequently pressing forward and being the aggressor in his fights. When he officially signed with the UFC, there was speculation that he could be the guy to take down UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva once and for all.

That speculation was quickly muted after his debut fight at UFC 149, however. That night, Lombard squared off against Tim Boetsch in the card’s co-main event, which turned out to be rather unspectacular. After knocking out opponents left and right and showing a lot of aggression during his time with Bellator, “Lightning” looked rather tame in his first Octagon appearance. Sure, he was able to land a few solid strikes and ultimately won the fight on one of the three judges’ scorecards, but the hype train that was previously moving full steam ahead had suddenly been derailed.

Not to make excuses for Lombard, but there are some outlying factors as to why he didn’t live up to expectations in his Octagon debut. Originally, Lombard was supposed to square off with Brian Stann, but “The All-American” was bitten by the injury bug and had to pull out of the fight due to a bum shoulder. Not only did Lombard’s opponent change as a result of this, but the entire fight moved from UFC on Fox 4 in Los Angeles to two weeks earlier at UFC 149 in Calgary.

Additionally, let’s not forget that Boetsch, Lombard’s new opponent for the fight, has been on a tear himself, having one three straight before facing Lombard. What’s more, Lombard was not able to use the same aggressive style against “The Barbarian” as he was against Jared Hess or Falaniko Vitale with such effectiveness in Bellator. To top it all off, Lombard said after the fight that he was competing with a broken sternum.

Needless to say, Lombard’s debut with the promotion left a lot to be desired, which is where this past weekend’s UFC on FX 6 event comes into play. Fighting Rousimar Palhares and competing in his adopted home country of Australia, Lombard had a chance at redemption. Seeking to prove that his performance in his UFC debut was nothing more than an off night, the American Top Team fighter came out and finished “Toquinho” by first-round knockout. We finally had a chance to see the dominant middleweight impose his will on an opponent inside the Octagon, pressing forward and delivering punishment on his way to victory.

Maybe Lombard’s debut was spoiled due to an injury, or because many of the details of the fight had changed, or because he suffered a case of the Octagon jitters. Maybe he just had an off night at one of the worst possible moments. Nevertheless, he returned to his previous dominant form at UFC on FX 6, and if the Lombard we saw on Friday night is the one we will see in his future UFC fights, then the hype train might just be back on the tracks. If so, any middleweight, including UFC champion Anderson Silva, won’t want to be standing in its path when it comes rumbling through.

Photo: Hector Lombard (Sherdog)

About The Author

Brian McKenna
Staff Writer

Brian McKenna was born and raised in the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts. A sports nut from as long as he can remember, he came to be a fan of Mixed Martial Arts from a roommate watching The Ultimate Fighter while attending Westfield State College. Brian came to writing by starting his own blog, Four Down Territory, which focuses on Boston based sports, life, and of course MMA.