Five Unforgettably Disappointing UFC Debuts
By Matt Molgaard
MMANEWS.COM Staff Writer
In the wake of the awkward UFC 149 event, I found it rather fitting to highlight some of the major promotional acquisitions that resulted in not fireworks, but full blown duds. Over the years the sports powerhouse promotion has signed some very highly touted prospects. Some have proven every bit as amazing as billed, while others have underwhelmed on embarrassing levels. When a professional athlete ascends to the greatest level of competition it's bound to happen. I don't think many predicted we'd see something of such nature transpire at UFC 149, but that doesn't alter the fact that we definitely did. Hector Lombard dropped the ball, in a big way.
Hector Lombard: Lombard has long been considered one of the sports elite middleweights. For five years and 25 fights the powerhouse Cuban remained unbeaten. Not only did he remain unbeaten, he built a reputation for destroying foes, obliterating the likes of Jesse Taylor, Trevor Prangley, Jay Silva and Jared Hess. The man looked like a monster poised to challenge the seemingly invincible champion Anderson Silva. Apparently, it was not meant to be so. On Saturday night Lombard made his debut, set to tangle with the massive, resilient wrestler Tim Boetsch. Lombard entered the cage a solid favorite, but the wind would not propel his sails on said night. Boetsch, who didn't truly do a wealth of damage in the fight himself, managed to keep Lombard at bay for the majority of their meeting, utilizing a variety of rangy kicks to keep his foe off balance. While Lombard was never outclassed, and at times did indeed make the fight competitive (he scored a few nice takedowns while stuffing all of "The Barbarian's"), he appeared a cracked shell of the wrecking ball fans have grown to know. While not the most embarrassing UFC debut in history, Hector Lombard's elite status now rests in question. Is "Lightning" truly prepared to compete on the largest MMA stage in existence?
Kimbo Slice: Let's be very real with ourselves here: no one expected Kimbo to swarm through the UFC ranks and pick up a title. In fact, I don't for a moment believe that many anticipated him having an impressive career within the promotion at all. However, Slice was gifted with what seemed to be a stylistic dream match for his official debut at the season 10 finale of The Ultimate Fighter, a showdown with fellow banger Houston Alexander. The consensus belief was that someone's head was destined for the third row, and given the pure aggression typically displayed by both men, it seemed like a fair bet. What transpired was an impression of the "running man" from Alexander, who refused to engage Slice. But Alexander certainly shouldn't take the brunt of the blame alone. Slice seemed completely incapable of cutting off the octagon and closing the distance. His fluent body movement proved useless, and his power was never able to manifest itself inside the cage. By the time the bout ended both men had invested extended periods of time leaning over, hands on knees, gasping for air. If you're not even fit to job for fifteen minutes, the UFC probably isn't the place for you.
Rolles Gracie: Rolles was supposed to be the modern day Gracie Jiu-Jitsu heavyweight ace. Upon seeing his debut at UFC 109, it became obvious - rather quickly - that Rolles would not only sputter in the UFC's heavyweight division, he would prove to be a bit a massive disappointment to both fans and the Gracie clan. Rudimentary in just about every sense imaginable, Rolles did little more than flail about the cage. His opponent, Joey Beltran entered the competition with a reputation for being tough but a bit rough around the edges. Rolles could not capitalize on any of the holes in Beltran's game, and by the time the bell sounded signifying the launch of round two, his gas tank was completely depleted. 90 seconds later Beltran used his fists to put an end to a hype train that should have never parted the station.