Critics Baffle Bellator Champion Lombard

By Sam Genovese Nov 14, 2011
Bellator Fighting Championships middleweight titleholder Hector Lombard feels the sting of criticism, from his reputation as a brute in the gym to his perceived lack of competition. However, he cannot understand the motives behind his detractors.

“Everyone criticizes me all the time,” Lombard said. “I don’t know why. I haven’t been getting caught with drug tests like all these guys.”

Lombard (Pictured, File Photo) holds particular disdain for peers he views as “cheaters”: fighter hoping to gain a competitive edge through performance-enhancing drugs. Having faced many adverse situations in life and during his career, the onetime Olympic judoka maintains he has never resorted to steroid use, no matter the obstacle in front of him.

“The Alexander Shlemenko fight [at Bellator 34] was good for me,” Lombard said. “I was sick. I had the flu. I knew if he connected with me he would put me to sleep. I didn’t want to take that risk because I was sick. No excuses.”

After reaching the Olympics, Lombard immigrated to Australia from Cuba in order to pursue his MMA career. Two lackluster performances in Pride Fighting Championships followed, as he lost decisions to Akihiro Gono and Gegard Mousasi. Lombard acknowledges his training at that time left something to be desired.

“When I fought in Pride, yeah, I didn’t train,” he said. “Yeah, even you, if you go into the ring and you don’t train, you’re gonna get tired. Now if you train and you train hard enough, you won’t get tired.”

After visa issues nixed a proposed bout with Karo Parisyan in the UFC, Lombard signed with Bellator. He became the promotion’s first 185-pound champion, defeating Jared Hess by fourth-round technical knockout in Bellator’s inaugural middleweight tournament final. With that, Lombard had answered the lingering questions surrounding his conditioning and established himself as one of the world’s top middleweights.

“Once again, I proved I can fight five rounds. It wasn’t the first time,” Lombard said. “I finished Brian Ebersole in the fourth round [at Cage Fighting Championships 5]. People say I can’t last four or more rounds. I don’t know why.”

Lombard has not lost since those two decisions in Pride. He will carry a 19-fight winning streak into a non-title 195-pound catchweight bout with Trevor Prangley at Bellator 58 on Saturday at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Fla. Despite his success or perhaps in light of it, Lombard claims he has been the subject of constant finger pointing. Because of his muscular physique, many, he says, have questioned whether or not he built his body naturally. In response, Lombard points to his clean testing record -- as an Olympian and as a professional mixed martial artist.

“Trust me, there is a lot of guys using and abusing [steroids],” he said. “I know I don’t take anything. That’s why I want to fight all the time. Most of the fighters don’t fight all the time because they’ll juice up for three or four months, clean up and fight. I’m fighting all the time, and when I fight in Australia, they do drug tests, too.”

Lombard has difficulty understanding why he has been subjected to criticism when he believes he approaches his career in the right manner.

“Fighters act like real d---heads,” he said. “Tito Ortiz gives everyone the finger in public. They love these guys; or like Brock Lesnar, who gave everyone the finger and said, ‘I don’t care if everyone paid. F--- you.’ He says things like that, and everybody loves that guy. Me, I’m a cool guy. I’ve never taken any steroids. They always criticize me. Don’t know why.”

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