For the second time in his career, Hector Lombard is poised to make his Octagon debut.
Flashback to late 2007, when "Shango" was scheduled to face off against fellow Judoka Karo Parisyan at the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) 78 pay-per-view (PPV) event in Newark, NJ, until Visa issues kept him from entering the country and he was forced to withdraw from the "Garden State" fight card.
Let's try it again.
In a division that's been depleted of fresh title contenders (Sorry, "Count"), Lombard can enter the fray and make an immediate impact -- assuming his 31-2 record is not a sham built on lesser names from the International circuit (Sorry, Fedor) and he can actually replicate his previous success as a ZUFFA employee.
But it's not a done deal just yet.
That's because Bellator Fighting Championships has the right to match his most recent offer, and promotion CEO Bjorn Rebney tells Sherdog.com his team needs to make a "strategic decision" about the 185-pound champion's future after this weekend's Bellator 66 event.
Those comments, after the jump.
"We've received the final proposed UFC agreement from Hector's attorney, and right now we are in the process of reviewing it to determine whether we're going to match the agreement. Obviously, we have a huge event coming up Friday. As soon as that is over, we will sit down with our partners and go through the UFC contract line-for-line and make a strategic decision whether we're going to match it or pass. [If we pass, we will] wish him the best and let him go knock out everybody in the UFC."
Lombard's only two losses have come by unanimous decision to Gegard Mousasi and Akihiro Gono in fights that took place nearly six years ago. He has 24 finishes, including 17 (T)KO stoppages in 31 wins.
He's been called everything from professional can-crusher to top five middleweight in the world.
Is it time for him to sign with the UFC and prove which label suits him best? Or has he done enough in Bellator (and beyond) to already convince you? Let's get some feedback on Lombard, including where you think he'll end up, in the comments section below.