There are very few things to get excited about when Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) makes its historic debut in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, this weekend (July 21, 2012). Injuries, over saturation and other issues have ravaged UFC 149; however, the pay-per-view (PPV) main card will feature one of the most intriguing promotional debuts in quite some time the moment Hector Lombard sets foot inside the Octagon.
"Shango" has been a straight up can killer on the regional and international circuits the past five years, winning 24 straight and carving a swath of human wreckage along the way. He's certainly also topped his fair share of quality opposition, too, which resulted in the Cuban-born terror becoming the undisputed Bellator Middleweight champion.
That's something worth writing home about.
Lombard and his supporters have talked quite a big game in the build up to his "big league" arrival. And when he enters the Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday night, make no mistake that all eyes will be on him (who else is there to watch besides the main event?) when he collides with UFC veteran Tim Boetsch.
If Lombard is impressive against the "Barbarian" -- arguably the best fighter he has faced in years -- he could immediately enter himself into the Anderson Silva sweepstakes. Underwhelm, which wouldn't be a surprise based on the lofty expectations, first-fight jitters and all the other intangibles that can and often do affect first-time UFC fighters, and he could quickly (and unfairly) be branded a bust.
Indeed, mixed martial arts (MMA) fans are a fickle bunch.
It's also likely that he will have to drop jaws like Chris Weidman recently did at the expense of Mark Munoz if he wants to even be considered as a possibility to contend for a title after just one UFC win.
That's a very tough act to follow.
Lost in all this is the rise of Boetsch, who is riding a crest of momentum thanks in large part to his epic come-from-behind finish of Yushin Okami earlier this year. He sits undefeated (3-0) as a 185-pound fighter and has certainly earned a reputation as being one of the stronger and durable competitors in the division.
He's got solid power, great wrestling and of course, the tosses. Of course, Lombard has great power, too, as well as Olympic-level tosses, but that just piles on more pressure for the American Top Team (ATT)-trained fighter to deliver on fight night.
Count me among the many who are excited to see if he's got the goods.