Slump vs Streak: Can Lombard bounce back against Smith?

September 20, 2017

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On September 16, at the PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Luke Rockhold and David Branch will headline UFC Fight Night 116. While this headline fight is set to be a spectacular one, there’s another rather tantalising matchup on the main card which pits two veterans in different veins of fortune against each other.

Cuban Hector Lombard will take on American Anthony Smith in a middleweight bout in an attempt to turn his fortunes around against one of the most in-form fighters going. The 39-year-old Lombard has failed to win since March 2014, whereas Smith – ten years the Cuban’s junior – is in the form of his career. With a 27-12-0 overall record, ‘Lionheart’ has won ten of his last 11 fights across all promotions since April 2014.

The loss would surely put the idea of retirement in the mind of the once-lauded Hector Lombard, whereas another victory for Smith would be hard to ignore when it comes to scheduling big upcoming events. So, who looks set to take the victory at UFC Fight Night 116?

Hector Lombard has gone cold since his unanimous decision win against Joshua Burkman in January 2015 was overturned and ruled as a no contest due to the Cuban testing positive for a banned substance – subsequently receiving a one-year ban. Since then, the now 34-7-1 fighter has lost by technical knockout to Neil Magny, knockout to Dan Henderson’s elbow, and most recently by unanimous decision in Canada, at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax against Johny Hendricks.

Standing at 5’9’’ and 170 lbs with a 71’’ reach, Lombard comes into his next fight as the smaller fighter, by quite some way. Anthony Smith has a 6’4’’, 184 lbs frame with 77’’ reach, as well as an extra 6’’ in leg reach, and he’s also in his prime physically at 29 years old. However, having an Olympian history in Judo, Lombard is known to be fast out of the gate, using his sheer power to take down his opponent. Smith’s extra height and unfavourable 44% takedown aversion rate should play into Lombard’s favour if he can get inside.

Regardless, Lombard’s form and age are certainly counting against him with the bookmakers. While it is seen to be a close fight, the 39-year-old Cuban is the underdog at 19/20 with Betsson (according to this article, Betsson is considered to be one of Canada’s top-rated casinos with an integrated bookies section). Lombard’s pedigree gives him a boost with the bookmakers, but Anthony Smith’s great recent record shouldn’t be ignored, especially against the downtrodden Lombard.

Favouring stand-up fighting and utilising Jiu-Jitsu, 29-year-old Anthony Smith has turned his career around in recent years. From sitting at a 17-11-0 at the start of 2014, Smith added ten wins and just one loss through fighting at Bellator, EB Beatdown, CFFC, RFA, VFC, and his most recent four fights in the UFC. His only loss over the last three years was by unanimous decision to Cezar Ferreira in July 2016, from which he’s clocked in a technical knockout victory and a knockout win since.

Likely due to the class of his opponents, Smith still isn’t rated all too high in the UFC yet – behind Lombard in most rankings. But, if he can pull off an impressive win against ‘Showeather’ he’s sure to move into contention for bigger UFC fights in the near future. That is, however, if he can beat Lombard. Half of Smith’s losses have come by way of submission, so he certainly has a weakness for it; but having said that, his last submission loss came back in 2013, which rounded off a three-loss streak (all by submission) before his current 10-1 run began.

If he can weather the storm that Hector Lombard is expected to come out with, Anthony Smith could very well walk away as the winner and continue his fine form. If that were to occur, Lombard, at 39 years old, might consider calling it quits. 

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