Recently the UFC added one of the finest competitors outside of the Octagon to its roster by signing reigning Bellator middleweight champ Hector Lombard. For those unfamiliar with the 34-year old Olympic judoka, Lombard holds an overall record of 31-2-1 including 24 stoppages and wins over the likes of Trevor Prangley, Joe Doerksen, Brian Ebersole, and Alexander Shlemenko. Even more impressive, Lombard hasn’t lost in more than five years while racking up 24 victories over the span.
While his official UFC debut hasn’t been announced yet there are a number of good options out there that would put Lombard in position for a shot at the organization’s belt by mid-2013. Granted, his credentials might merit a crack even sooner, but between Chael Sonnen and Michael Bisping/Mark Munoz the UFC’s title-picture is already fairly focused for the next nine months.
That being said, here are three possibilities for Lombard that make sense for multiple reasons:
Kyle Noke: At first glance I suspect a few readers rolled their eyes. However, though Noke is far from a big name, he and Lombard have history including a Draw. It would be a good way to acclimate Lombard to the Octagon while also letting him avenge a semi-stumble by (likely) picking up a highlight-reel win. Noke is expected to return soon from injury so why not make it happen?
Rousimar Palhares/Alan Belcher: Okay, this is kind of cheating since I’m listing two guys, but with them fighting each other next weekend it all works out since ultimately Lombard would face the winner. Both are interesting match-ups stylistically based on aggression plus neither is a particularly big 185er, a factor worth mentioning considering Lombard’s own diminutive size at 5’9”.
Brian Stann: Stann came out of his recent win injury-free and has the name, plus success, to make for an intriguing opponent. He also likes to strike which makes for a nice stylistic showdown capped off by a probable knockout.
Truly, given Lombard’s skill-set and aggressive approach there aren’t many opponents who wouldn’t be fun to see him face – Bisping, Vitor Belfort, Wanderlei Silva, Cung Le, Rich Franklin…the list goes on and on. Unfortunately, the bulk of the UFC’s best middleweights are already busy, but fortunately there are a few folks who still fit the bill as mentioned above.
PHOTO CREDIT – BELLATOR