Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight knockout artists Hector Lombard and Anthony Smith will throw down this Saturday (Sept. 16, 2017) at UFC Fight Night 116 inside PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Is this Lombard’s last stand? It’s surprisingly possible. It’s been five years since Lombard was very expensively bought from Bellator, and his biggest accomplishment is probably becoming the man with the worst nickname — “Showeather” — on the roster. In his last four fights, Lombard has lost three and failed a drug test, leaving him without much wiggle room.
On the other hand, problems with conditioning and defense saw Smith wash out of the UFC in 2013. Undeterred, Smith improved and brutalized the regional scene. “Lionheart” has won three of four since rejoining UFC, and now he’ll look to score the biggest win of his career.
Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for each man:
Record: 33-7-1 (2)
Key Wins: Jake Shields (UFC 171), Nate Marquardt (UFC 166), Rousimar Palhares (UFC on FX 6)
Key Losses: Dan Henderson (UFC 199), Neil Magny (UFC Fight Night 85), Tim Boestch (UFC 149), Yushin Okami (UFC on Fuel TV 8)
Keys to Victory: Mixed results aside, Lombard is still a very violent man. The Judo Olympian stills packs insane power in both hands, but his recent shortcomings are shared with the Anthony Smith of 2013: Durability and conditioning.
This is a very dangerous fight for Lombard. Smith has proven to be very dangerous throughout the entire fight, while Lombard thrives early on. If Smith survives a slugfest through the first round, the chances of Lombard slowing down and absorbing heavy kicks from a man eight inches taller than him are pretty high.
With that in mind, Lombard has two paths to victory. He can definitely try to blow Smith out of the water early, and it might work. Smith has been stopped 11 times, and Lombard hits plenty hard even at 39 years old. Alternatively, Lombard might be smarter to rely on his Judo. Smith stands too damn tall much of the time, leaving himself open to easy, low energy takedowns. If Lombard gets on top, he can likely control and beat up Smith without exhausting himself too much.
I’d recommend Lombard stick to the latter, but I expect he’ll go after Smith swinging.
Key Wins: Andrew Sanchez (UFC on FOX 24), Elvis Mutapcic (TUF 24 Finale), Josh Neer (VFC 47)
Key Losses: Cezar Ferreira (TUF 23 Finale), Antonio Braga Neto (TUF Brazil 2 Finale)
Keys to Victory: I mentioned earlier that Smith has been finished an astounding 11 times, which is usually a sign that something is fundamentally wrong with a fighter’s approach. However, the 29 year old fixed that something, and he hasn’t been stopped in four years.
Modern-day Smith is a dangerous ball of lengthy Muay Thai and tricky jiu-jitsu, and he can fight for 15 minutes.
In this bout, Smith will want to stay active and kick as often as possible. Lombard has never done that well with fighters who maintain their range and kick at him. He doesn’t have many answers to it, and Smith is far bigger and a far better kicker than men who have found previous success.
In all likelihood, even applying the perfect kick-heavy strategy will result in Smith having to overcome some adversity. Lombard will try to hit him hard or slam him early, and his athleticism means he’ll likely succeed. It’s up to Smith to survive that barrage, drag this fight into the second round, and put on the hurt later.
Bottom Line: It’s a do-or-die moment for Hector Lombard.
If Lombard loses this fight, it’s over. He has lost three in a row and is unranked at 185 pounds. Name value can only carry a fighter for so long — the Cuban needs to win this fight and remind fans why he was once so feared. By taking out Smith, Lombard can show UFC and fight fans that he still has something left in the tank.
As for Smith, this is definitely a major opportunity. He’s won two fights in a row via very impressive knockouts, which includes a big win over a tough prospect in Andrew Sanchez. If Smith can follow that up with another victory over Lombard, he’s definitely ready for a Top 15-ranked opponent. If not, it’s an opportunity lost for Smith, who will return to the mid-tier of the Middleweight division.
At UFC Fight Night 116, Hector Lombard and Anthony Smith will square off. Which fighter will remain standing when the dust settles?