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Hector Lombard Proves He Belongs in the UFC

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COMMENTARY | MMA veteran Hector Lombard (32-3-1, 18 KOs) failed to live up to the hype around him during his Ultimate Fighting Championship debut, putting on a lackluster performance against Tim Boetsch at UFC 149.

From start to finish, Lombard seemed tentative inside the Octagon, obviously -- and rightfully so -- concerned about Boetsch's punching power. His cautiousness ended up costing him the fight, as the Octagon side judges ended up giving "The Barbarian" the nod (I scored the fight in Hector's favor).

Disappointed with his poor showing, Lombard vowed to put on a better performance against Rousimar Palhares at UFC on FX 6, and the Cuban-born Australian did just that.

"Shango" went right after Palhares, bombarding the BJJ specialist with hard shots throughout their encounter. Lombard dropped Palhares early in the fight, and he finished "Toquinho" off shortly after, sending him to the canvas again, following up with a vicious barrage of punches that knocked the Brazilian out cold at the 3:38 mark of the first round.

"I would like to do that to Michael Bisping," Lombard said shortly after the fight, sending fans at the packed Gold Coast Convention Centre in Queensland, Australia, into a frenzy.

With his complete destruction of Palhares at UFC on FX 6, Lombard made it clear that he's here to stay in the UFC's 185-pound division. A few more performances like that and he'll find himself fighting for the middleweight belt sooner rather than later.

Lombard and Bisping have exchanged heated words in the past, and it's safe to say things have gotten personal between the two. The beef started, when Bisping questioned the caliber of opponents Lombard had faced prior to signing with the UFC.

"I want a piece of him [Bisping]," Lombard added during an interview with Fox Sports, per "I don't want to talk. Let's talk in the cage. He bothers me."

Unfortunately for Lombard, Bisping is already set to face Vitor Belfort on Jan. 19 at "UFC on FX 7," so he'll have to wait for an extended period of time if he wants to fight "The Count" next. However, if Belfort ends up getting injured before his fight against Bisping, Lombard made it clear that he's willing to jump in.

Hector also indicated that he'd love to test his skills against Mark Munoz, but given the latter's loss to Chris Weidman at "UFC on Fuel TV 4," a win against him wouldn't propel Lombard unto the number one contender spot.

"If I can't fight Bisping, Mark Munoz, you're next in line," Lombard continued. "I hope the UFC gives me the opportunity. I want to fight in the next couple of months, right away. I'm healthy. I don't have any injuries, and I'm ready."

The UFC's 185-pound title picture is certainly a mess right now, and it'll be interesting to see who the promotion decides to give the next shot at current middleweight champion, Anderson Silva.

Weidman and the winner of the Bisping vs. Belfort matchup seem to be the front runners for the next go at "The Spider," but I wouldn't be surprised if UFC matchmakers try to inject Lombard into the conversation.

Hardcore MMA fans have talked about a Silva vs. Lombard matchup for quite some time, and it's arguably the most profitable option on the table for the UFC and Silva right now besides a super-fight against Georges St. Pierre or Jon Jones.

One thing's for sure, Lombard is good enough to compete with the top fighters in the UFC's middleweight division.

David is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and boxing practitioner who has watched and studied MMA for the past 7 years. Follow him on Twitter @davidkingwriter and check out his blog.

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