This weekend is set up to be the first fight in the Hector Lombard era of the UFC. On a remarkable win streak, Lombard has been considered a top tier fighter in the division for a while despite his status as champion in Bellator because of his penchant for devastating victories. He completed in the Olympics in Judo and has been seemingly fast-tracked for a title shot ever since he signed his UFC contract. He’s on a 20 win streak and has only gone to the judges’ scorecards four times in that span. A wrecking ball in wait, Lombard is being groomed for a title shot because he presents an interesting challenge to Anderson Silva. But one thing is standing in the way of that fight: Tim Boetsch.
And the interesting thing is that if Lombard isn’t careful he could find himself victim to the one thing Boetsch has done shockingly well in his last couple fights: pull off a Hail Mary victory.
Boetsch was a mediocre light heavyweight who was a borderline type of talent in that division. Not big enough to really handle himself well, Boetsch made the drop to middleweight and has found a substantial amount of success because it’s the proper weight class for him. Much like Chael Sonnen, Michael Bisping and Brian Stann, Boetsch had an easy weight cut to 205 and 185 has made him in that much better physical shape on fight night.
It was evident in his fight against Phil Davis, perhaps the biggest of the light heavyweight contenders, that 205 wasn’t the best weight for him. Davis may have invented his “Mr. Wonderful” submission against him but the one thing that was evident was that Boetsch was going to be out-sized in the division fairly clearly. A drop to middleweight followed and so far Boetsch has looked like an elite fighter that his talents always lent themselves to be. And in his last two fights he’s shown something that Hector Lombard has to be on the lookout for.
“The Barbarian” and his berserker frenzy when the chips are down have felled men with better MMA pedigrees than Lombard.
He may have come back after being thoroughly handled by Yushin Okami for 10 minutes, and by Nick Ring for five, but the one thing he showed in both fights was that when he knows he’s losing he’ll go for broke. Against Ring he turned it on earlier, of course, and that fight gets forgotten due to the miraculous nature of his victory over Okami. Okami had only been stopped by Anderson Silva prior to that fight and is known for his ability to engage in wars. That Boetsch came out and brutally knocked him out says something that Lombard can’t overlook.
Boetsch will be in this fight until the end unless Lombard stops him.
That’ll be the key to this fight. Lombard doesn’t have a lot of premier talent on his list of guys that he’s defeated since his epic win streak began and Boetsch might be the best fighter he’s ever faced to this point. Lombard’s main problem over the years is that due to the division’s lack of depth, coupled with the fact that the UFC and Zuffa control nearly every top middleweight in the world and the ceiling for Lombard isn’t known. There’s only so much we can figure out about a fighter when his level of competition isn’t as high. It’s the same quandary we have with Luke Rockhold; we presume he’s good, and can knowledgeably call him amongst the elite of the division, but he doesn’t quite have the resume to match.
That’s what Boetsch represents for Lombard right now. And until the final horn blows for Saturday’s fight, Hector Lombard needs to be on top of his game. Better pedigreed fighters have fallen from Tim Boetsch’s ability to make a comeback in recent years … and Lombard could very well be the next man to fold under his pressure.
Tags: Hector Lombard, Mixed Martial Arts, Tim Boetsch, UFC 149