After UFC on FUEL TV Loss, Hector Lombard Says “I Think I Have To Change My Game”, “These Guys Don’t Want To Stand Up With Me”
By Kelsey Mowatt
Former Bellator middleweight champ Hector Lombard arrived in the UFC with a ton of hype behind him–a 25 fight undefeated streak will do that–but the powerful fighter has now dropped two of his three fights under the promotion’s banner. While granted, both defeats have come via split decision to noted middleweights in Tim Boetsch and most recently Yushin Okami, Lombard concedes that it might be time to change his approach.
“I think I have to change my game a little bit,” the 35 year-old Lombard noted in a recent appearance on Full Contact Fighter Radio, when asked to comment on his recent defeat to Yushin Okami at UFC on FUEL TV 8. “Every single time I’ve fought, these guys sort of like, run away from me, try to keep their game scoring points and stuff like that.”
Of course, anyone who has followed the career of Lombard in recent years knows that the former Olympic Judoka largely looks to keep fights standing, and has had a great deal of success in doing so. The feared striker recorded several highlight reel stoppage victories during his tenure as Bellator champ, and his stopping power was on display in his knockout of Rousimar Palhares at UFC on FX 6 in December.
“So, I think that I need to change around my game,” Lombard said. “Start being the goal in the fight not just going out there and try to knock people out because they have studied my fights, the way that I fight, and they’re just fighting smart, fighting to win. I’ve tried to make the fight exciting but they want nothing to do with me in the stand-up department. I have to work on it.”
“I’m saying in the way that I have to have a chance to take the guys down, I will,” Lombard added. “I’ll try to be more well rounded…If I can’t KO someone I need to go for the takedown and stuff like that. Change the game, score things, because now these guys don’t want to stand up with me…at least then I’ll score with the takedowns.”
In his recent bout with Okami, Lombard secured the top position during the third round, but it was on account of his opponent falling back to his guard position.
“I always just focus on KOs, and I forgot about that I wasn’t in a stand-up fight,” Lombard said. “It was a MMA fight.”
As some expected might be the case, Okami–an accomplished Judo practitioner in his own right–largely relied on his takedowns and controlling top game to score points in rounds one and two. Recognizing that he likely needed a stoppage to win the bout, Lombard came out firing in round three and stunned Okami, but was unable to finish the perennial contender.
“I would have come out for it but it was too late,” said Lombard, when asked if he wishes the bout would have been a five round affair, so that he would have had more time to secure a stoppage. “These things happen; I believe you learn more from when you lose than winning.”
Now it remains to been seen who the UFC matches Lombard next, but due to the American Top Team fighter’s resume and rather lucrative contract, one would think another top middleweight will be tapped for the assignment.
“Mark Munoz, you know,” Lombard said when asked who he would like to fight next, who is a man he has expressed an interest in facing before. Early into Lombard’s UFC tenure, Munoz questioned whether the middleweight should receive a title shot after one win with the promotion. “Right now, I lost to my last opponent, so we’ll see what the future holds…anyone at middleweight is fine.”