In the fight game, there's the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and then there's everyone else. What Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva has done over the course of the past six years is nothing short of extraordinary. But, believe it or not, there is a Cuban born 185-pound wrecking machine who has arguably been even better.
The problem with this assertion comes when you examine the level of competition. Silva, a man widely considered the pound-for-pound greatest fighter of all time, has had to fend off criticism of his opponents. The middleweight division has been the weakest of all weight classes for years now, according to many pundits, and so Silva's dominance over it has a pock mark on it, at the very least.
So what does that mean for Lombard, then, who hasn't lost in 25 fights and is currently on a 20 -- count 'em -- 20 fight win streak but has done so on the regional circuit and in smaller promotions like Bellator?
It means he doesn't measure up. Not yet.
The conundrum here is we can't say that with any measure of honesty because it's impossible to analyze something that hasn't actually happened yet. How would Lombard fare fighting inside the Octagon against UFC caliber competition?
We don't know. But we'll find out tonight (Sat., July 21, 2012) in the co-main event of UFC 149: "Faber vs. Barao" at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
The man tasked with welcoming him to the eight-sided cage is Tim Boetsch, a bruiser with big power and one hell of a chin. It's an intriguing style match-up if only because "The Barbarian" is more than willing to stand and trade punches with "Shango" but also boasts the wrestling to drag the Cuban to the mat in the event he finds little success exchanging on his feet.
In short, we'll find out if Boestch can hang with a powerful striker, which he would need to be able to do to have any shot at the elite like Silva, while also discovering if Lombard can stay upright long enough to work his game.
The match-up is exciting and will be just as educational as it is entertaining.