Top 15-ranked Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweights Jake Shields and Hector Lombard squared off on the pay-per-view (PPV) main card of UFC 171 last night (Sat., March 15, 2014) from American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.
No. 6-ranked Shields came in with the momentum of a victory over grappling wizard Demian Maia at UFC Fight Night 29. With decision victories in three out of his last four mixed martial arts (MMA) bouts, Shields was riding his stifling style to the top of one of the most stacked divisions in the sport.
The Cesar Gracie-trained product had his hands full with former Bellator middleweight champion Lombard, who fought his first 170-pound bout at UFC 166, knocking out Nate Marquardt to immediately announce his presence. No. 12-ranked "Lightning" brought some of the scariest knockout power at welterweight, and his black belts in judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu made him no easy task on the ground.
He was looking to become an instant contender, but Shields has a way of shutting down his opponents' strengths. However, that didn't happen this time around.
When the dust settled, Lombard scored his biggest UFC win to continue climbing up the rankings.
The pivotal bout began with a bang, as Lombard tossed Shields aside with ease. Lombard floored Shields with a big left hand, and then followed with a solid flurry. Shields threw a weak leg kick and ate another hard punch. Shields shot for a takedown, but Lombard responded by pushing the fight up against the cage. Lombard went to work with his hooks, backing up a bloody Shields.
Lombard was unloading vicious bombs on a floored Shields, but the former Strikeforce champ survived. After Shields missed another takedown, Lombard floored him yet again to rain down shots. Shields slowed the pace throughout the last minute of the opening frame, neutralizing him until the bell.
Lombard swung wildly early in the second, and then scored an impressive trip slam. Shields wrapped up Lawler, resulting in a restart from the referee. "Lightning" was throwing noticeably fewer punches, but he once again sprawled to avoid a takedown. Shields pumped the jab, but Lombard used his judo to throw down Shields. Lombard didn't appear at all scared to engage Shields on the ground as the second round came to an end.
Lombard snapped a couple hooks to start the third. A Lombard low blow halted the action. Shields missed another takedown when Lombard reversed the fight to the mat, landing inside the guard. The fight was stood back up again, but soon returned to the canvas. "Lightning" controlled Shields on the ground as the crowd booed. The bout came to a close when Shields went for a super tight guillotine, but it was too late.
Lombard took home the unanimous decision in a wholly one-sided performance, showing solid power and grappling solid enough to dominate noted submission artist Shields. "Lightning" will be poised for an absolutely huge fight, so a match-up with No. 4-ranked Rory MacDonald would show his readiness to ascend to the truly elite level of the 170-pound landscape.
The UFC welterweight division is truly wide-open, so it also wouldn't be a surprise to see Lombard booked against a returning Nick Diaz, Dong Hyun Kim, or even one of his American Top Team teammates in Robbie Lawler or Tyron Woodley.
It's impossible to say right now, but one thing is certain: Lombard still has work to do, as he appeared to tire as the three round fight wore on. That's not going to bode well if he ever ends up in a five round title bout.
Shields will move down the ladder after grinding out a series of good decision wins. He simply had nothing for Lombard tonight, and showed absolutely no urgency in his attacks after clearly losing the first two rounds. Shields may be too one dimensional to ever make another title run, but he can still provide a tough challenge for most UFC welterweights.
Perhaps a bout against some like up-and-coming prospect Brandon Thatch would be a good bout for him, or even someone like Mike Pyle. His style is arguably the most boring in a division full of exciting fighters, so Shields probably won't get another top-level fight until he absolutely earns it.
That could be a very long wait.
Hector Lombard continued to show increased power at 170 pounds by blasting Jake Shields over the course of three rounds. However, he appeared to slow down considerably as the fight progressed. Will "Lightning" strike against the UFC welterweight division's elite fighters?