ProMMAnow (www.prommanow.com) reporter Dr. Rhadi Ferguson had the opportunity to speak with Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney directly after Bellator 66 which took place last week in Cleveland, Ohio. A variety of topics were covered including the news of Bellator Middleweight Champion Hector Lombard getting an offer from the UFC with Bellator having the option to match. Rebney gave his thoughts on Lombard as a fighter below:
In my opinion, I believe without any question that Hector Lombard is the best middleweight in mixed martial arts. Whether or not we decide to match the outstanding UFC offer that he currently has, and whether he keeps fighting in Bellator and keeps knocking people out here. Or Maybe we decide from a business perspective that we’ll release him and allow him to go sign the deal with the UFC . I think whether he’s fighting in our circle at Bellator or the octagon at the UFC he will show that he is the best middleweight in the world. I think it will take him if he were to go to the UFC two to three fights to get an opportunity to fight Anderson Silva because Hector has that one factor in his game that everyone wants to see which is one punch devastating knockout power.
Lombard (32-2-1, 1NC) is the reigning Bellator Middleweight Champion debuting for the promotion in 2009 while also winning the title that same year. Lombard hasn’t lost since dropping a unanimous decision to Strikeforce fighter Gegard Mousasi in 2006. He has won 24 fights in a row (including a draw) while finishing 19 of those opponents via TKO/KO or submission. Lombard is an extremely explosive athlete with huge power in his strikes while being difficult to take down with his judo background. Some fans and pundits are quick to point out that Lombard hasn’t faced the toughest competition when compared to fighters like Anderson Silva or other UFC middleweight contenders.
There are two interesting story lines here:
There are no huge fights for Lombard in Bellator at this point, and most fans feel as though he would need to validate himself in the UFC. Otherwise, he would face the same backlash that has followed MMA great Fedor Emelianeko since he has been unable to come to terms with the UFC.
What happens if Bellator decides to match the UFC offer that Lombard has? How would other Bellator champions look at this situation? Would they look at it with the viewpoint that they should be paid big money just like Lombard? Bellator is now backed by Viacom, but will they be willing to pony up huge amounts of money for fighters that do not have a huge fan base? If Bellator decides to let Lombard walk, how will that be perceived by other Bellator champions? Would that open the floodgates for the UFC to handpick the fighters they want from Bellator? UFC President Dana White has openly stated that he is interested in signing the best fighters in the world, and fighters like Hector Lombard and former Bellator Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez are among them.
Rebney did say that they would be quick in making the decision on whether or not to re-sign Lombard because he owes it to him for what he did for Bellator as an organization. They’ll probably be making a decision at some point this week as Lombard has been out of action since November 2011.
Where would you like to see Lombard fight?
Interesting times in the world of MMA, interesting times. Stay tuned to Pro MMA Now for future updates on this situation.