Sunday, May 15, 2011

Silva's biggest threat may not be in the UFC

With a (28-4, 16 KO's, 5 subs) record, UFC middleweight champion Anderson 'The Spider' Silva is arguably the number one fighter in the world right now. Therefore, it's safe to say he's without question the best middleweight in the world; or is he? Step in Bellator middleweight champion Hector 'Lightning' Lombard (29-2-1, 16 KO's 6 subs), quite possibly Silva's biggest threat at 185 pounds who is not in the UFC.

Standing at only 5'9", the five inches in height he gives up to Anderson Silva may just be the only disadvantage the man AKA Shango would have against 'The Spider'. Lombard, a 2000 Judo Olympian, won his 22nd in 23 fights, with the only blemish being a draw, including 18 in a row, with a third round crushing knockout over Falaniko Vitale (29-10, 9 KO's 16 subs) in a non-title fight Saturday night. That is compared to 14 wins in a row for Silva in just about the same time period. So, what's the difference; level of competition?

Silva's compiled that record over five years with the majority of those fights taking place in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, which boasts the best talent laden middleweight roster in the world. Meanwhile, Lombard, in nearly five years, besides Bellator has fought in the Cage Fighting Championships promotion out of Australia, where he is also the middleweight champion, and Warrior's Realm. Yet, what Lombard may lack in the form of competition, he more than makes up for in every other facet.

Besides being an Olympic Judoka and multi-world Judo champion, Lombard is also a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt under Marcus 'Conan' Silviera of American Top Team, whose direct black belt lineage goes to the late great Carlson Gracie, Sr. himself. Also, as can be seen in the photo above, Lombard is powerfully built and knows exactly how to use that power when it comes to striking as can be noted by his 16 KO's. It took only one perfectly placed short right hand to the jaw to put Vitale on Queer Street Saturday night. He fell not once, but twice from the same punch; this to a guy who's only been KO'ed five times in 39 fights.

Silva meanwhile is also a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt under the renowned Nogueira brothers and his striking ability is unparalleled. A beautiful technical boxer with precise fast hands and leg kicks that are just as lethal, along with a devastating Muay Thai game, 'The Spider' has the perfect build for his style. With his wiry frame and long limbs, he is equally adept standing as he is on the ground. This is the reason why I think a fight between these two would be a great match-up.

Too bad we'll never get to see it though. As long as the UFC refuses to co-promote, and let's face it they don't need to, Lombard will have to settle for fights with very good, but not great opponents. Thus, he'll continue to toil in relative obscurity to the casual MMA community and will never be considered on Silva's level. That's a shame and a loss for MMA hard cores because Silva's biggest threat may not be in the UFC.

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