"I believe he's a great fighter. His record speaks for itself. He beat a who's who of the sport. But, he's boring," Lombard said flatly when asked for his appraisal of Shields. "This is a sport where you have to entertain fans.
"Because at the end of the day, this is the entertainment business. It's not like the win business. It's like, go up there, show your skills and knock people out. He doesn't have that."
While Shields has competed in a several prominent bouts over the course of his UFC career, most notably a 2011 title challenge against Georges St-Pierre at Toronto's 55,000-seat Rogers Centre, one would need to gaze all the way back to mid-2009 to find the 35-year-old's most recent stoppage win.
Now, coming off back-to-back split decisions, Shields has been given the task of facing Lombard, whose drop down to 170 pounds has thus far paid dividends in the form of a first-round knockout of Nate Marquardt at UFC 166.
The Cuban-Australian is a ferocious opponent, certainly, but one still ranked outside the promotion's top-10. Although if you ask Lombard, there's a reason behind the UFC's curious matchmaking.
"He's boring," Lombard repeated of Shields. "He's boring. That's the truth. I don't like to see him fight and I'm a fan of fighting. I'm a fight fan. That's the way it is, man.
"He hurts the sport. It's like Ben Askren. People [couldn't] care less. It's like you go and you watch WWE wrestling, okay, and the guy is not entertaining, is kind of boring -- he can get fired. It's the entertainment business here. It's a professional business here. It's not like the Olympics. Who watches the Olympics?
"Trust me, I came from the Olympics," Lombard continued. "I can mention to you right now several Olympic gold medalists in judo, and you don't even know who they are. Now, I mention to you a bronze Olympic medalist in judo, and you know who she is. Why? Because she had to come here, she had to come to the entertainment business."
Lombard's criticism is a familiar refrain for Shields, who's heard similar grumbles for years from fans and opponents alike. Still, Shields didn't mince words in his response.
"I've always thought Hector was a prick," he shot back. "Everyone kind of knows that, so it's not surprising for a guy like that.
"As a person, everyone that knows [Hector], no one likes him at the gym. He's the guy who goes for all the new guys and tries breaking their ribs, breaking their arms, knocking them out. But as a fighter," Shields added, "He's talented."
Truth be told, after so many years, Shields appears weary of the narrative that continues to follow him. After being spurned in place of Woodley for UFC 171's co-main event, the American expressed a desire to make a statement on Saturday night, and afterward -- for once -- vocalize his demands for a title shot.
In the meantime though, Shields isn't willing to fall victim to Lombard's trap.
"Hector's a huge power striker so he probably wants me to come in and start trading shots with him, so I think he's trying to pull me into that game," Shields said. "But I know he's got a lot of power, so I'll put him on his back and submit him."