CALGARY, July 21 - Hector Lombard, unbeaten in 25 fights dating back to 2006, thought he was the man to dethrone UFC kingpin Anderson Silva and build his own legend. But the Cuban from American Top Team can convince no one of this argument after Saturday night’s disappointing performance in the UFC 149 co-main event, which saw the former Olympic judoka fight extremely conservatively en route to dropping a split decision to Tim Boetsch at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
Surely Lombard did not envision kick-starting his UFC career with a lackluster first round that saw Boetsch outwork and outscore him with punches and kicks. By no means did Boetsch land big shots – it was, in fact, Lombard who landed two heavy overhand lefts – but he kept hitting singles with a variety of leg kicks and awkward punches while the more one-dimensional Lombard kept trying to hit homeruns (usually in vain).
In round two, Lombard turned it up a notch and clearly deserved the round on the strength of a potent overhand left, a cracking right hand near the ear and a kick to the body that made Boetsch wince and retreat in pain. But Boetsch is one tough character and Lombard, a former member of the Cuban Olympic Judo team, could never follow up those blows with anything of consequence.
Round three played out in similar fashion to round one, with fans less than thrilled but Boetsch again outworking his adversary.
For a man who kept calling out Anderson Silva – the crème de la crème – it was not the kind of showing to support your case for being deserving of a title shot.
CHEICK KONGO VS. SHAWN JORDAN
Sometimes two wrestlers collide and a boxing match breaks out. And sometimes the opposite holds true: two strikers collide and a wrestling match breaks out. That is essentially what happened in this battle of big boys between Cheick Kongo and UFC newcomer Shawn Jordan, who spent much of their time in an ugly clinchfest that produced little carnage but plenty of yawning.
In the end, fans at the live show booed and Cheick Kongo had his hand raised courtesy of a 30-28, 30-27, 30-27 verdict from the judges.
Kongo seemed the busier of the two and seemed to hold up better in the clinches, fighting off every one of at least nine Jordan takedown attempts. Kongo often had the former Louisiana State University football player’s back while standing but did little with it. When they were at a distance, it was Kongo who seemed to land more frequently with punches and kicks. The French native improved to 28-7-2. Jordan, who previously fought under the Strikeforce umbrella, fell to 13-4.
Watch Kongo's post-fight interview
JAMES HEAD VS. BRIAN EBERSOLE
In the fight game, they can’t all be barnburners. You have the Fight of the Year candidates that can cause anyone to become addicted to MMA. And, at the other end of the spectrum, you have the snoozers that keep even the most die-hard aficionado looking at his watch and begging for mercy. The James Head-Brian Ebersole wasn’t quite as boring as the latter, but by the final round it inspired plenty of boo birds at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
Head scored a split decision (scores of 29-28 across the board) behind a super-conservative standup arsenal. He landed some shots here and there and he locked Ebersole in front headlocks, but was stifled time and again in that position and seemed unwilling to risk much from there. When he did gamble and try to advance – as when Head attempted a guillotine choke in round one – Ebersole scored the takedown and popped his head out.
Ebersole, who took the fight on short notice and had won four straight in the UFC coming in, showed a lot of creativity in his attacks, utilizing cartwheel kicks and odd hammerfists to Head’s thigh. The wily veteran (50-15-1, 1 NC) repeatedly landed kicks to Head’s body, but had most of his takedowns stuffed. The 31-year-old was superb defensively, but could not offensively exploit Head, who took few chances.
Post-fight interview with Head
MATTHEW RIDDLE VS. CHRIS CLEMENTS
It’s not often we see Matt Riddle reject the opportunity to engage in a toe-to-toe slugfest for an entire fight. But the ever-evolving welterweight showed a new wrinkle to his game Saturday, returning to the wrestling skills that made him a force during his high school days in upstate New York.
While the fight was standing, the shorter and stockier Clements repeatedly landed over the top with punches and kicks to the body against his taller foe. But in every round, Riddle’s takedowns and top control kept him competitive in the action-packed fight.
Clements upped the ante in the final stanza, clocking Riddle with potent right hands. But Clements would pay dearly for his ultra-aggressiveness, for when he attempted a spinning elbow, Riddle caught him in a head-and-arm triangle while standing. Riddle tripped Clements (11-5) for the takedown, then locked the arm triangle choke even tighter and won the tap at 2:02 of the round.
“I made sure I banged a little but I went back to my roots, I had to get the ‘W,’” said an ecstatic Riddle (7-3). “I want this crowd on my feet! That’s what gets me going!
“I had to change camps. I’m training with Robert Drysdale and his jiu-jitsu is top notch. It took me to the next level.”
Hear from Riddle following the fight * See the sub of the night