The Fight Horizon – Jake Shields vs. Hector Lombard at UFC 171

In today’s Mixed Martial Arts, new fights are announced so often it’s difficult to keep track of all of them, let alone understand how they came about and what the implications are. So twice a week here at The Fight Horizon on Inside Fights, writer Daniel Sohn takes a quick, but in-depth look at newly announced match-ups to mark on your calendar.

The Matchup:

Jake Shields (29-6 overall, 4-2-1 NC in the UFC)

Strengths: Grappling, Jiu-jitsu, improving striking

Weaknesses: Lack of striking power, plays it safe

Hector Lombard (33-4 overall, 2-2 in the UFC)

Strengths: Thunderous KO power in hands

Weaknesses: One trick pony

The Date: March 15, 2014 at UFC 171

Weight Class: Welterweight

What led to it: Interestingly, Lombard asked for this fight and was quoted as calling Shields boring. Lombard is coming off of an absolute plastering of Nate Marquardt, while Shields returned to the welterweight division recently and won back to back split decisions against top contenders, while would say he lost both fights. Apparently, Lombard has it out for Shields and wants to put his lights out.

Why it matters:  This is really a launching pad type of opportunity for both guys, but especially Lombard. Since his arrival in the UFC after a dominant run in Bellator, he’s alternated between losing split decisions and knocking guys out. It highlights the fact that Lombard is a one trick pony right now. His one trick is pretty damn good, but in today’s MMA, pursuing one thing and one thing only is going to reach its full potential at some point and guys will figure you out. Cases in point, Roy Nelson, Dan Henderson and…Hector Lombard.

But Lombard is also so freakishly explosive that he is going to catch guys who aren’t always on their toes or don’t have the know-how on how to avoid those booming punches. It remains to be seen which category Shields will fall into, but Shields is an excellent grappler and got though Dan Henderson without taking an H-bomb to the chin. If Lombard can pull off another exciting finish, you’d have to think he gets someone in serious contention to prove his mettle and potential as a title contender. Let’s not forget, Lombard was the Bellator MW champ and if he had won his UFC debut against Tim Boetsch in his typical fashion, he very likely would have faced Anderson Silva. Lombard is used to winning and fighting the best.

For Shields, it’s yet another opportunity to leap up the ladder and possibly move towards a title shot. Demian Maia was already on his way and Tyron Woodley just pulverized Josh Koscheck. Shields beat both of those guys, although in unimpressive fashion. But a win is a win. A victory over Lombard could take him up to a higher position and he could make some moves. With all of the GSP-Hendricks fall out, it’s anyone’s guess what will happen with the welterweight championship. Shields isn’t anyone’s idea of an explosively dangerous fighter, but he knows how to grind out wins and he can’t be ignored. Beating Lombard, especially finishing him, would do a lot for his career at this point.

This is a sleeper fight ladies and gents, currently the co-main at UFC 171 where Jon Jones defends against Glover Teixeira. Mark the date.

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