And it has been a long time coming, Lombard’s entrance to the UFC. He was originally slated to face one of the top UFC fighters, Karo Parisyan, in 2005. Due to visa issues, however, Lombard was unable to compete.
“Yeah people forgot about that,” Lombard said. “People always say [about me], ‘Bellator fighter’… I was supposed to fight in the UFC like in 2005. If people do the math… it’s 8 years. 8 years ago, I was supposed to fight for the UFC, but because of visa issues, I couldn’t fight. But UFC had its eye on me a while ago. I don’t know sometimes the people what they talk about, to be honest. In 2005, I was supposed to be fighting in the UFC. Unfortunately it didn’t happen, and 8 years after that, I’m fighting in the place that I always wanted to fight.”
Of course, eight years and some 30 plus fights later, Lombard has made it to the UFC. But the UFC has proven to be a bumpy road for Hector Lombard. Few fighters garnered the sort of attention that Lombard did coming into the UFC; and with countless people watching as he debuted against Tim Boetsch at UFC 149, many MMA fans were left wondering what the hype was about. Following the split-decision loss to Boetsch, Lombard would go on to defeat Rousimar Palhares with a devastating first-round KO, but he would then go on to lose a decision to Yushin Okami.
That loss prompted Lombard to drop from middleweight to the 170-lb. limit at welterweight. The result was a first-round knockout over his first welterweight opponent in former Strikeforce champion, Nate Marquardt, earlier this month at UFC 166.
About that fight, Lombard said he felt good with his performance, especially given the pressure that his 1-2 record up to that point had him possibly fighting for his job.
“I mean, it feels good and I’m quite happy to do my job in the UFC,” Lombard told BJPenn.com Radio. “I’m not too sure, but I would have [been cut] maybe. I want to stay in the UFC for a long time, you know, and I want to keep fighting… and entertain[ing] my fans.”
Leading up to the fight, there were reports that Lombard had been struggling to make the drop to 170 lbs. Lombard said that, although it was difficult, he felt motivated by people’s doubts.
“It was really hard, you know, but every single time I… suffer, when I feel tired, when I feel I couldn’t make it, I would go to the computer, and I would check all the people talking bad about me, and I would get the motivation to fill me up and keep going. So I’m quite happy that people doubted me, it keeps me motivated and keeps me in the place that I want to be.”
By defeating Marquardt, Lombard certainly entered the welterweight division with a substantial splash. As far as who is next for the Cuban-Australian fighter, he has his sights set on someone who can bring him up into the top of the division.
“I think that Carlos Condit is high ranked, right? OK, I’ll take Carlos Condit,” Lombard had said during the interview about the UFC’s No. 2 ranked contender. Lombard also said that he would be willing to fight Condit’s most recent opponent, Martin Kampmann, who is currently ranked 7th.
As far as sizing himself against the division’s long-time champion, Georges St-Pierre, Lombard had some reservations.
“I don’t want to talk about that,” Lombard said, “because, you know, I have a long time to get there. I want to get one of those guys [Condit or Kampmann] first.”
Of course, if Lombard is able to continue the momentum he has found at welterweight, he could be fighting his way into the division’s top ten sooner than later.
For Lombard, the success he has found inside the cage comes from his style of fighting; and despite his extensive background in judo, Lombard prefers to fight on the feet. He says it’s more exciting.
“My style of fighting has nothing to do with judo. I love judo, and I’m always going to love judo, and I’m always gonna be calling myself a judo player. I trained that sport for seven years. I went everywhere in judo, and I competed at the highest level. But, I don’t use judo at all. I knock people out. I like to be exciting. That was my goal a long time ago, I want to be exciting, and I want the people to want to watch me fight. Unfortunately judo is not as exciting as MMA. So I tried to develop a style where [people] would come see me fight. So I started training stand-up, and I got myself an instructor. That’s how I like to fight, I don’t like to grapple. I like to stand up. If somebody has to get KO’s, somebody has to go out.”
As for how he – a man who entered this sport with a background in grappling – has been able to find the power to score 19 professional KO’s, Lombard says it comes from relentless training of strength and power.
“I think I was like training and develop[ing] my strength and my power, you know, it’s like Ronday Rousey,” Lombard said, citing fellow judoka and the UFC women’s bantamweight champion. “She lifts bodies all her life, you get to the point when you’re stronger than everyone else. She’s done it for so many years that it gets to the point she’s like four times stronger than all the guys she’s gonna face. And that is because she’s been training longer and harder than every single other [person]. Put it this way, she’s been training since she was five, or whatever, lifting bodies and training hard three or four times a day. There’s no way any other women can claim that. So I tried to kind of like a lot more in striking all the time, punching the bag and doing those things – more striking than anything else to develop that strength, that power.”
As far as what’s next for Lombard, he said that unfortunately he won’t be on the UFC’s return to Australia this December. The UFC brass told him that the card was already full. But he will be returning to the Octagon soon, saying that he doesn’t like to sit around and relax.
“I believe that, when you [do] one thing, you go all the way or no way. I don’t want to go out there and party… or be at the clubs saying, ‘Oh, you guys see my last fight, how great I was?’ I don’t want to do none of that.”
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