Hector Lombard has 20 wins in his last 21 fights. | William Musacchia/Sherdog.com
Great expectations were left unmet when Hector Lombard climbed into the Ultimate Fighting Championship cage for the first time.
Lombard entered the Octagon at UFC 149 in July on a 20-fight winning streak and left it on the wrong side of split decision against Tim Boetsch at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Though some viewed the verdict as controversial, Boetsch landed more significant strikes in all three rounds and more total strikes in every frame but the second. Lombard did secure two takedowns but did not pass guard or attempt a submission. The 34-year-old Cuban judoka had gone nearly six years between defeats.
Still viewed as a viable middleweight contender, Lombard will try and blot out the memories of his disappointing promotional debut when he clashes with Brazilian leg lock guru Rousimar Palhares at UFC on FX 6 on Friday at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre in Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. It will be a homecoming of sorts for Lombard, who resided Down Under for several years after defecting from Cuba following the 2000 Summer Olympics.
“I’m very excited about this fight,” Lombard told UFC.com in his pre-fight interview. “I am in my hometown, and I plan on giving my biggest fans the show they want.”
Palhares will not be any easy test to pass. The 5-foot-8 powerhouse has earned his reputation as one of the sport’s most frightening submission fighters. Palhares has secured 10 of his 14 victories via tapout, seven of them by some form of leg lock. Lombard seems well aware of the dangers the 32-year-old Brazilian presents as an opponent.
“My game plan is to come fully prepared for anything,” said Lombard, who has never been finished as a professional. “Palhares is deadly on the ground so my ground game has been the focus, but I’m always looking for the KO.”
When injured Australian Kyle Noke withdrew from his undercard bout against fellow “Ultimate Fighter” alum Seth Baczynski, Mike Pierce was there to take the call.
Pierce -- whose only three UFC defeats have come by decision against Josh Koscheck, Johny Hendricks and Jon Fitch -- will lock horns with “The Polish Pistola” on short notice, placing his two-fight winning streak in harm’s way. Pierce last fought at UFC on FX 5 in October, when he knocked out Aaron Simpson 29 seconds into the second round at the Target Center in Minneapolis.
Baczynski will have a seven-inch height and four-inch reach advantage.
“I think Seth is going to be a fun and exciting fight,” said Pierce, who wrestled collegiately at Portland State University in Oregon. “I’m one of the shortest guys in the welterweight division and he’s one of the tallest, so he certainly poses some interesting challenges in that regard. Stylistically, I think I match up very well [with him], and I’m looking forward to it.”
A Power MMA Team representative, the 31-year-old Arizona-based Baczynski has won his last six fights, finishing five of them. He last competed at UFC 152 in September, when he knocked out Norwegian import Simeon Thoresen inside one round at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. Baczynski, who has quietly compiled a 4-1 mark in the UFC, knows he has his work cut out for him against Pierce.
“He is a tough fighter with a lot of wars under his belt,” he said, “but make no mistake about it, I will be going for the finish.”
This & That
UFC on FX 6 will be the fourth Ultimate Fighting Championship event held in Australia, joining UFC 110, UFC 127 and UFC on FX 2 ... George Sotiropoulos has not tasted victory since he submitted Joe Lauzon with a kimura at UFC 127 some 25 months ago ... Ross Pearson holds a black belt in tae kwon do and a brown belt in judo ... “The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes” welterweight finalist Robert Whittaker is the youngest fighter on the UFC on FX 6 roster. He turns 22 on Dec. 20 ... Team Alpha Male’s Chad Mendes will have traveled more than 14,000 miles round trip for his three 2012 fights by the time he returns home to Sacramento, Calif., following his undercard bout with Yaotzin Meza ... Joey Beltran is 2-6 in fights that go the distance ... Mike Wilkinson is one of two undefeated fighters on the UFC on FX 6 lineup. The other is his opponent, Brendan Loughnane ... Grudge Training Center’s Cody Donovan, who meets Nick Penner at 205 pounds, has never fought outside of North America ... “The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes” lightweight finalists Colin Fletcher and Norman Parke have combined for 19 submissions between them ... Manuel Rodriguez is one of two El Salvador natives signed to the UFC. Bantamweight Ivan Menjivar is the other.