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Hector Lombard rips Tyron Woodley, says he accepted Josh Burkman fight to 'set an example'

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

MEXICO CITY -- UFC President Dana White likes to say the entire welterweight division is scared of fighting Hector Lombard. While the statement may seem like a gross over-exaggeration, in Lombard's eyes it may as well be true.

Lombard languished on the sidelines for months after his withdrawal from UFC Fight Night 48, a majority of which he spent his time futilely calling out the rest of the 170-pound division one-by-one, before finally signing a contract to meet Josh Burkman at UFC 182. While Burkman is no slouch, it's hard to ignore his recent title loss in WSOF. And for a fighter like Lombard, who sits at No. 6 in the UFC's media-generated rankings, the match-up felt like an admittedly anticlimactic conclusion.

"I definitely proved a point right now and set an example," Lombard said of his decision to accept the bout. "I think I did it before with my weight class too. They said, ‘well you're going to 170.' If they're paying you, saying you're going down to 170, well, then I'm going to have to do my best to go down to 170 and make the weight.

"I think I set another example (in this instance): don't call me, just put the guy in front of me, I'm going to fight and move forward. I think I set an example even for Tyron (Woodley), like, you don't choose opponents here. You have to fight whoever you have to fight, and I think that the company should be a little bit more aggressive with that."

Even with an opponent in front of him, it's clear Lombard still begrudges Woodley for his refusal to accept a main event slot against Lombard as the headliner for the UFC's recent show in Australia. White told reporters in August that Woodley turned down the bout because it didn't work for he and his "brand."

Woodley defended himself at the time, stating mainly that he and Lombard were teammates at American Top Team and he wouldn't fight a teammate unless it was for the title, while also reasoning that he wanted to fight a higher ranked opponent -- though Lombard scoffs at both of those claims.

"The real reason is he knows he's going to lose," Lombard said. "That's the real reason. And man, I'm sick of calling (out) this guy. What do I have to do? I don't know. Why can't we (fight)? He been saying things like I don't make sense for him because I'm only top-six. You just fought a top-10 (opponent). I mean, come on.

"He isn't my training partner," Lombard continued. "We never helped each other. A training partner is like Cain Velasquez and DC, those guys helped each other. They pushed each other. They [work together] on an everyday basis. That's a training partner. I don't call a training partner a guy who comes to the office and uses it, makes his own schedule, and then leaves them. He doesn't think about all the fighters who have fights. He doesn't think about people who need bodies to train, and I don't call him a training partner. I don't call him a friend. He's in my weight class, and let's face it, we don't have to kill each other.

"Nobody's going to die. Nobody's going to get hurt. We've just got to prove who's better and move forward. Even in my Olympic sport back in the days, we used to be training partners, and when the Nationals came, you have to prove you're the best. We have to compete. That's the way it goes. I don't understand why some guys, they're just like, ‘oh, I won't fight this guy, I won't fight this other guy.' If you want the gold, you have to go and get it. No matter who they put in front of you, you have to go and get it."

Lombard acknowledged that he accepted his Jan. 3 bout against Burkman mainly because he wanted to be a company man. He hopes his decision results in a higher-profile booking should he win, although when asked about White's claim of the rest of the division running scared, Lombard again voiced his frustration regarding his fellow 170-pounders cherry-picking match-ups in order to draw a favorable road to the top.

"I definitely believe it's true," Lombard said. "And I don't think it's scared, I think when you're in the top-10, you want to play kinda like, okay, ‘this guy is a better fight for me, this other guy is an easier fight for me.' I think they're playing with it.

"I'm not here to choose. I'm here to fight."