The Battle of the Hulks has finally come to fruition.
Tonight, live from the Gold Coast in Australia is UFC on FX 6, and the opening fight of the main card is an explosive encounter between muscular middleweights Hector Lombard and Rousimar Palhares.
You have to assume UFC matchmaker Joe Silva had a little laugh when he decided to match up the two stockiest 185ers on the planet. It’s almost like a fight you’d see in a comic book, if comic books were about MMA fighters.
This is a great fight, and the fact it’s free only makes it sweeter, because this fight is near-guaranteed entertainment. In my mind, there are only two ways this fight can end: Lombard knocks Palhares out, or “Paul Harris,” as MMA fans have come to call him, somehow gets one of his signature leglocks/heel hooks on Lombard and hands him the first submission loss of his career.
Either way, there is absolutely no way this fight is going the scheduled three rounds.
So, if this is a fight that features nearly-guaranteed fireworks, why isn’t anyone talking about it?
Really, there has been so little buzz for the fight, and it kind of makes me scratch my head considering just how hyped up both Palhares and Lombard were going into their last bouts. But you’re only as good as you’re last fight, and both men lost the last time they stepped into the Octagon.
In Palhares’ case, he entered his UFC on FOX 3 bout against Alan Belcher as a moderate favourite. And in the early goings of that fight, he got Belcher down on the ground and has his big hands wrapped around Belcher’s leg. But Belcher was able to get out of if it, and then TKOed Palhares with some heavy ground and pound, derailing the “Paul Harris” hype train.
In Lombard’s case, he entered his UFC 149 bout against Tim Boetsch as a massive favourite. The former Bellator World Middleweight Champion, Lombard was on an extremely long win streak coming into the Boetsch fight but he fought the worst fight of his career in Calgary that night and ended up losing a controversial split decision. Really, Lombard probably should have got the nod, but the truth is he was so incredibly passive in the fight that no one cared.
So now, with both men coming off of humiliating losses, it’s time to get back on the horse and jump back into the title talks. But as we all know, while two men may enter the Octagon only one exits with his hand raised, so one of these two fighters is going to be at a career crossroads while the other will again re-enter the top 10 of the division.
With so much pressure on both fighters, it will be interesting to see how each fighter deals with it.
In Lombard’s case, there’s no doubt he’s motivated to put the ghost of UFC 149 behind him and move on in his career. When reporters in Australia this week asked Lombard what went wrong in the Boetsch fight, he refused to talk about it and said he’s focused on Palhares. Likewise, when reporters asked Palhares what went wrong with Belcher, he didn’t want to discuss it. Clearly, both men are focused on one another and that should make for a terrific tilt.
Again, it’s a shame that there is so little buzz for this fight, but that’s what happens when you put on miserable performances. It’s the same situation with Clay Guida, who fights Hatsu Hioki next month at UFC on FOX 6. Once considered one of the most exciting fighters in the UFC, Guida put on one of the all-time worst Octagon showings in his last outing against Gray Maynard at UFC on FX 4, and now he’s on the prelims, and no one cares about him. Both Palhares and Lombard need to put on good showings to ensure that doesn’t happen to them, and I have a feeling they will.
Lombard vs. Palhares is one of the best fights left in 2012, so enjoy it. It should be a lot of fun, and I, for one, am very, very excited.