When you’re carrying a 24-fight unbeaten streak in MMA, it can’t help but draw the right kinds of attention. But when you stake it against a guy who’s gone 1-3-1 in his last five fights -- especially one who hasn’t looked particularly good in two years -- it just seems like bubble wrap to protect the feat.
That’s the sort of thing that draws the right kinds of criticism.
And it’s the position that Bellator’s middleweight champion Hector Lombard finds himself in. It was announced that his next opponent will be 39-year-old journeyman Trevor Prangley at a 195-pound catchweight bout on Nov. 19. Prangley has dropped a pair of fights in a row. If you wear rose-colored glasses, you can look at it as a stand-and-bang fight with potential for a sudden knockout. You set them up, and Lombard will knock them down. But a potboiler is a potboiler. As such, it’s also massively uninteresting. It’s a fight that carries a nasty existential vibe that goes like this -- “what’s the point?”
The thing is, outside of it being a payday, there is no point. Lombard has been long criticized for not facing top competition, and it’s become a glaring accusation (one that he gets particularly grumpy about when hazed by it). Granted, it’s not entirely up to him. Lombard is under contract, and he’s not necessarily avoiding guys. He called out Nate Marquardt and Ronaldo Souza in the last year, but then went about beating up Joe Doerksen, Falaniko Vitale and Jesse Taylor.
In other words, his intentions and his actions have yet to align.
We’ll have to continue holding out until they do, because Prangley isn’t going to shake the asterisks off of his winning streak. If Lombard runs his streak to 25, it’ll be because it would have required a fluke to be otherwise. Lombard may genuinely want top-level guys, but he's not getting them. As Sherdog’s Jordan Breen Tweeted upon catching the news, “I look forward to Hector Lombard’s undefeated streak reaching 50 with a win over John Salter.”
It’s so funny because, hey, it’s just about gotten to that.