Now that it looks like the UFC is going to be able to make a move on Melbourne, Australia, the chatter about fights for the promotion’s first, and likely blockbuster, event in its new territory has begun.
Mixed martial arts has been legal in the state of Victoria, where Melbourne is located, but under the previous Liberal government, competing inside a cage was banned, so the UFC would not go there. Over the weekend, the Victorian Labor party was elected to power and has vowed to change that, paving the way for the UFC to bring its Octagon to Melbourne.
Australia’s Daily Telegraph is reporting that UFC 193 will take place on Nov. 15 at Etihad Stadium, which seats more than 50,000 spectators. Jon Jones, Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor are reportedly being considered to headline the event.
But one former Australian resident, Cuban-born UFC welterweight Hector Lombard, has an idea of his own for UFC 193.
“If I can’t fight for the title for some reason, you know I really would love to [fight Georges St-Pierre],” Lombard said in a recent interview with Submission Radio. “I know that GSP is coming out of retirement, so I really would love to have a big fight between me and GSP in Australia. That would be a shocker, eh?”
Although it wouldn’t likely be the headliner, as Director of UFC Operations in Canada and Australia, Tom Wright, told the paper that at least one title fight, and maybe two, would be on the line for the fight promotion’s debut in Australia’s second largest city.
“We only get one chance to make a first impression,’’ Wright told The Daily Telegraph. “I remember when we first went into Toronto, Canada, and (UFC owner) Lorenzo Fertitta said ‘this is going to be our Super Bowl.’ It’s the same with Melbourne. That will be our mandate.”
A fight between Lombard, who spent a large portion of his career fighting in Australia and built a strong following there, and St-Pierre would certainly add to the Super Bowl-like feel that the UFC would be aiming for.
As he currently climbs into title contention, Lombard believes a fight with St-Pierre is one that he would win.
“I can take a punch and my wrestling’s improving every day. So it’s going to be very hard for him to get me down and my stand up, he's got no chance with me. That’s for sure.”
Whether it happens or not, doesn’t just depend on Lombard wanting the fight, it also depends on St-Pierre actually making the decision to fight again. While Lombard believes the former welterweight kingpin is on his way back to the Octagon, St-Pierre has yet to declare if he’ll ever fight again.
He recently returned to the gym after having knee surgery, but readily admitted that means little in regard to ending his pseudo-retirement.
“I’m going to tell you the truth, I always train. I started training when I was seven years old, and I never stopped. Training is part of my life, so it doesn’t mean anything,” St-Pierre said on a recent Chael Sonnen podcast.
“It doesn’t mean that I’m going to be back or not. Whether I retire or not, or if I come back or not, I’m always going to be training.”
If he does decide to return any time soon, put Hector Lombard at the top of the list of those wanting to fight him.