Morning Report: The Hunt for Hector Lombard's Dance Partner

Bellator

After all the craziness that went on Tuesday, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that the UFC middleweight division just got a whole lot more ferocious.

Introducing Hector Lombard, the man with the mythical 25 fight unbeaten streak. First things first, what can "Shango" do for you? For that, I point you to a four-part violence diorama -- lets start with this, add a little splash of this, definitely some of this, and we'll close with this. Keep in mind, all that was within his past five Bellator fights.

Though one quick point before we play fantasy matchmaker; at just 5'9", Lombard is about to join a division overflowing with 6-foot-something behemoths. Sonnen, Silva, Munoz, Bisping, Belfort, Weidman, Stann -- all these guys dwarf the former Bellator champ. Just something to keep an eye on.

Anyway, who should have the pleasure of welcoming Lombard into the Octagon? With nearly every top-ten guy already booked, I'm joining my colleague Mike Chiappetta on the Stann wagon. At best, it would be good litmus test for each fighter. At worst, it would be a guaranteed barnburner between to of the most aggressive guys in the division. Your thoughts?

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5 MUST-READ STORIES

Potential opponents for Hector Lombard's UFC debut. Now that longtime Bellator middleweight champion Hector Lombard is under Zuffa contract, speculation is thick regarding the 34-year-old's opponent for his upcoming UFC debut.

Dana White talks Overeem. UFC President White was surprised upon hearing of Alistair Overeem's nine-month punishment, stating that he expected the NSAC to come down harder. White has yet to decide if the Dutchman will remain in the UFC, though he made it clear he is "not an Overeem fan at all."

Erik Koch vs. Jose Aldo rumored. Fast-rising prospect Erik Koch has reportedly received a contract to fight UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo at UFC 147 in Brazil.

Kizer anticipates no issues licensing Chael Sonnen. Nevada State Athletic Commission executive director Keith Kizer foresees no problems licensing his old buddy Chael Sonnen to fight Anderson Silva at UFC 148.

UFC 145 salaries. UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones topped the disclosed payroll for UFC 145, taking home $400,000 for the third straight defense of his belt.

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MEDIA STEW

What happens when a regular 170-pound dude fights a UFC heavyweight? Well, Standing 8 Count and Chad Griggs are about to show you the answer. (HT: MiddleEasy)

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So Chuck Liddell said the only reason he would come out of retirement is to fight Jon Jones. Please reassure us, there's absolutely, positively, no feasible way this ever happens. Right? (Side thought: If prime Liddell -- complete with granite chin, one-punch KO power, and stifling takedown defense -- fights Jones right now, who wins?)

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Now for more Standing 8 Count fun, this time featuring noted bruiser Ben Rothwell. Though kudos to the tall fella for lasting longer than Brendan Schaub.

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We're pretty sure it's impossible for a human being to appear more likable than Jim Miller does brewing beer with his family a week out from fight day. (HT: MMA Mania)

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BACK TO THE GRIND

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HARDY ON REEM

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VINNY VS. M-1

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NINJA WANTS BACK IN

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FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Announced yesterday (Wednesday, April 25, 2012):

- UFC 149: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (33-7-1) vs. Cheick Kongo (17-7-2)

- UFC on FX 4: Hatsu Hioki (26-4-2) vs. Ricardo Lamas (11-2)

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FANPOST OF THE DAY

Today's Fanpost of the Day takes a closer look at the UFC's newest high-profile signing, courtesy of MMA Mania's Ulf Murphy: UFC Fighter Breakdown: Hector Lombard

Hector Lombard (31-2-1 (1), 17 KO's, 7 Sub's)

The Cuban-born Lombard, a former Judo Olympian, holds a 4th dan black-belt in judo and was awarded his black belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu in 2010 by Marcus Silviera (Carlson Gracie Sr.). Fighting out of Boca Raton, Florida, Lombard stands 5'9", has a 73 inch reach and is currently ranked #11 in the consensus rankings. Considered short for the division, Lombard has found a way to close the distance against some notable fighters (Kyle Noke, James TeHuna, Alexander Schlemenko, etc), but Lombard has yet to beat anyone who has approached the top 10 in the division. Since losing to Gegard Mousasi ages ago, Lombard has beaten the best fighters available to fight him, but are his previous fights enough to believe that he will continue in his winning ways?

How does Lomard stack up against the rest of the division when looking at his ability to affect the scoring criteria set forth by the unified rules? How does Lombard get the job done?

Grappling

The least questioned of Lombard's abilities, grappling is where Lombard thrives. Even though he has not recently submitted many of his foes (only one non-punches submission win since 2007), Lombard's background in Judo, and his stature (or lack thereof) combine to give him a great base. Although not tested by top tier wrestlers, Lombard had no problems with Trevor Prangley, a very respected wrestler, and good baromteter to judge that Lombard has at least above average take down defense (TDD). Until he fights the top of the food chain wrestlers like Sonnen, Munoz and Weidman, we can only guess that his skill here is sufficient.

We all know about Lombard's judo throws, but his top game is also very underrated. Working in Schlemenko's closed guard, Lombard was still able to connect with solid ground and pound.

Lombard also finished his fight in 2011 against Jesse Taylor by way of heel hook. Not a great notch on his belt, but Taylor has very good wrestling and has recently only lost to top fighters. While I want to think that Lombard is a top of the food chain grappler, until he beats a top of the food chain grappler I can only give him the following score.

Overall Grappling Score: 8

Found something perfect for the Morning Report? Just hit me on Twitter @shaunalshatti and we'll include it in tomorrow's post.

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