Having been caught in a contemplative mood, Bellator’s Bjorn Rebney told Sherdog.com that Anderson Silva is the only man “on Earth” who can feasibly beat Hector Lombard. That’s a bold statement (Earth is a populated place), but ultimately there’s nothing wrong in airing biases for your champion when he’s as dominant -- and unheralded -- as Lombard is.
After all, Dana White tells us similar things about his own champions all the time. If promoters don’t trumpet their own fighters, who will? Perception is a block of clay that these guys love getting their hands in. When media runs with it, they stand back and admire their sculptures.
Problem is that A) we can’t possibly know if that’s true or not because they fight in different, never-intersecting promotions, B) Lombard beats everybody, but they usually have names like Jesse Taylor and Herbert Goodman, and C) didn’t Rebney just make chopped liver out of Trevor Prangley, who is Lombard’s next challenge?
To the last point, yes, Prangley was made to be and is chopped liver. Just like Taylor, Falaniko Vitale, Joe Doerksen, Jay Silva, Art Santore and pretty much all of the Washington Generals that have stood in front of Lombard. Not to discredit his 24-fight unbeaten streak, because that feat is a marvel when going against professional fighters of any caliber, but mismatches don’t make for exclamation marks.
If Lombard had even a single Vitor Belfort on his list of wins, we’d be egged on. But right now, hypothesizing Lombard’s worth is all we can do. We know he’s good, and we know he’s consistently good. But we can’t know if he’s great, because there isn’t a marker in Bellator to fill us in. In fact, should Lombard get by Prangley -- whom he’ll be heavily favored against -- the best-case scenario is that he comes crashing back to a rematch with Alexander Shlemenko, whom he decisioned a year ago. The wheels on the bus go round and round.
If Rebney’s intentions were to use Silva as a gauge of excellence, it’s his prerogative. People do it all the time, and in this case it’s a fun thing to do; two champions, both on torrid winning streaks, both dominant middleweights. But in the end, the admission becomes that Lombard is outsized for Bellator and anybody they can throw at him (though the signing of Maiquel Falcao does give him competition in physique).
The idea is obviously to raise curiosity about Lombard. But contemplating how Lombard would do against Silva only succeeds in making people curious as to how Lombard would look in the UFC. Otherwise, it’s just a mirage, and when you’re the second best promotion going, hey, you’ll happily settle for that.