His opponent at UFC Fight Night: Rockhold vs. Branch earlier this month in Pittsburgh was Anthony Smith, a fighter with 39 bouts on his resume and looking to make an impact.
That was a bad combination for Lombard, as “Lionheart” stormed back for a third round TKO victory in the most exciting fight of September between the UFC and Bellator.
The card wasn’t overly-hyped to begin with, but in the days leading up, headliners Luke Rockhold and David Branch did a great job of selling it.
Smith capitalized, earning his third consecutive win and improving to 11-1 over his last 12 fights. That includes four wins inside the Octagon, as the Nebraska native is 28-12 overall. He previously competed for the UFC in 2013, going 0-2.
A former Cage Fury Fighting Championships and Victory FC middleweight champion, Smith knows what it takes to sit on top. But his win over Lombard was easily the best of his career, likely topping both previous title performances and his win vs. Lumumba Sayers back in 2012 on the Strikeforce card headlined by Ronda Rousey and Sarah Kaufman.
For Lombard, the fight was in essence his UFC career in a nutshell. He looked strong before wilting to Smith.
When he signed with the UFC in 2011, Lombard was 32-2-1 and riding a five-year unbeaten streak. He fell to Tim Boetsch in his debut, but won three of his next four around a split decision loss to Yushin Okami.
Since besting Jake Shields in 2014, though, Lombard has gone 0-4 with a no-contest.
Some of the other highlights in September included Jessica Andrade’s dominating win vs. Claudia Gadelha, Jeremy Stephens punishing Gilbert Melendez, Patricky “Pitbull” Freire’s victory over Benson Henderson and Paul Daley’s triumph vs. Lorenz Larkin.