Hector Lombard is signed and sealed to fight Yushin Okami. It's a fight that pits two perennial top 10 middleweights against each other, making it an important and meaningful fight in determining Lombard's forward momentum. You would think that would be more than enough to focus on for a man still getting his feet wet in the UFC, but you would be wrong. Lombard may have Okami in his direct path, but his sights continue to remain set past him, and on someone else, namely, the British middleweight Michael Bisping.
The animosity between the two is apparently mutual, and dates back to around the time of Lombard's signing with the UFC. At the time, it was said that just a single win may vault him into a title shot against Anderson Silva. That was a development that angered Bisping, an octagon veteran who has spent the better part of the last two-plus years campaigning for a matchup against the longtime middleweight champion.
Bisping's vocal disapproval set off Lombard, who challenged Bisping to fight. Some back-and-forth salvos have followed, but even though time has passed and the fighters have moved on to other matchups, the intensity of the rivalry hasn't waned, and Lombard still wants his UFC run to go through Bisping.
"I’m really trying to push this fight because I’m not sure it’s going to happen," he said on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour.
Lombard said he refuses to let it go partly because the fight has become personal, with insults lobbed at one another from afar and through media, with Bisping targeting Lombard's height.
"He's the one who's talking like, I need a ladder to fight him and stuff like that," he continued. "Let's see if I really need a ladder."
Lombard counters with a personal anecdote, saying that at one time, he shook hands with Bisping, only to latch on to the smallest hand he'd ever felt.
"I squeezed it and I'm sure he was in pain," he said. "And after that, he started talking about how short I am. But one thing you can be 100 percent sure about it is that he's got the smallest hands ever, like a little girl's hands."
Lombard said he "100 percent" guaranteed a knockout of Bisping, saying he's questioned Bisping's chin since seeing him knocked out in sparring by a little-known, lightly regarded Australian lightweight.
Though a fight with Bisping is his preference, he has no objection to fighting Okami, saying he came to the UFC to fight the best available talent, and that he always figured he would face the winner of the recent Okami vs. Alan Belcher match.
Anyway, Bisping already has his hands full with Vitor Belfort, who he will face at Saturday's UFC on FX 7 event. With this one, the tables are turned, as UFC president Dana White has said that if Bisping wins, he is likely to get the next title shot against Anderson Silva. That would seem to preclude the possibility of Lombard-Silva for a while. But if Bisping loses, would Lombard still like to fight him, even coming off a defeat?
You probably know the answer to that.
"I don't really care for belts or titles," he said. "I want to fight."