The welterweight division in the UFC has long been one of the toughest divisions in the fight promotion and has been the breeding ground for some of the biggest names in the sport. Names such as Pat Miletich, Matt Hughes and one of the biggest UFC draws in Georges St. Pierre have all had plenty of history, having competed in the 170 lbs division of the Las Vegas-based promotion.
The division couldn't be stronger than it is now, with the champ Robbie Lawler having successfully defended his championship twice since his split decision win over Johnny Hendricks back in December 2014. Names like Tyron Woodley, Stephen Thompson, Rory McDonald, Nick Diaz are all waiting in the wings as contenders to Lawler, who has had a tough out so far with every fight of his turning into a battle of epic proportions.
However, one name that most MMA pundits have been missing out on, in this discussion of future contenders is that of Hector Lombard, the former Bellator Middleweight champion. Lombard has long been one of the most avoided fighters in the division and a lot of that is by design, as his ability to finish fights at any moment is beyond question.
Lombard at 5'9 isn't a very tall guy, but he makes up for his lack of height in his stocky frame, which has always been imposing considering his swarming and ultra-aggressive style of fighting. The 4th dan black belt in Judo and a former Olympian Judoka has been nothing short of impressive ever since he dropped down to 170 lbs and was close to a title shot after his last win over tough veteran Josh Burkman.
However, he tested positive for the designer steroid des oxy methyltestosterone in the post-fight drug tests and has been away since then, serving a suspension. The proverbial dark horse in the welterweight division, Lombard would be looking to set a reminder for the detractors who have long been writing him off owing to his age( he is 38!)and lack of big wins on his record. However, the UFC has set him a stiff test in his comeback match as his opponent is the prodigal Neil Magny, who is 9-1 in his last 10 fights.
Magny, one of the bigger guys in this division, with endless cardio and an excellent ground game, is a good match-up for the mostly flat-footed, blitzing and powerful Lombard who is an accomplished grappler himself. However, the best chance for Magny in this fight is if he stays on the outside and weathers the first round and hope to capitalise in the later rounds. Lombard has shown to slow down in the later rounds, with the amount of muscle he carries in his frame and coming off a layoff, is bound to have some ring/cage rust.
Nevertheless, the welterweight showdown on this weekend's card is one where the winner will be startlingly close to a title shot and position themselves better in the shark tank of a weight division known as the welterweights in the UFC. However, if I were Neil Magny, I would try and stay off the Australian-Cuban fighter who, when he gets a hold of you, will most certainly take you for a ride that wouldn't result in a happy ending.
UFC Fight Night : Brisbane is set for this Saturday night(March 19) at 7 pm PT