Rebney: Only Anderson Silva Could Beat Hector Lombard


Bjorn Rebney says only one man stands a chance against his middleweight champ. | File photo: Dave Mandel


ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Since winning Bellator Fighting Championships’ inaugural middleweight tournament 28 months ago, Hector Lombard has stood alone atop the promotion’s 185-pound division.

The former Olympic judoka is a perfect 7-0 under the Bellator banner, having gone the distance only once in a five-round defense of his title. Some MMA fans and pundits have made it their jobs to try and find a hole in the impenetrable; Lombard has been so dominant that critiques have stretched to simply not knocking out opponents fast enough.

Next to try and dethrone the hard-hitting Cuban will be Alexander Shlemenko or Vitor Vianna, both of whom notched impressive finishes at Saturday’s Bellator 54 to advance to the finals of the fifth-season middleweight tournament.

Vianna, 31, was hailed as a “freak” upon his signing by Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney, a competitor who “resembled an attack dog in the cage.” But the Brazilian’s promotional debut in the middleweight quarterfinals saw him take a tough split decision over Sam Alvey, a result which left Rebney scratching his head. What Vianna never mentioned to anyone prior to the fight was that he could barely use his right hand.

“He’s just such a soft-spoken, sweetheart kind of a guy that he never brought up to us that his hand was bothering him, that his wife had gone into surgery and spent 11 days sleeping in the hospital,” Rebney told Sherdog.com on Saturday. “She had some thyroid situation they thought could conceptually be cancerous. He didn’t bother to tell us any of that. He was just a disheveled mess who couldn’t use his right hand when he came into the fight.”

With the personal and physical issues behind him, Vianna impressed thoroughly on Saturday, scoring a decisive stoppage victory over Bryan Baker in just 54 seconds. A spot in the middleweight final now booked for Bellator 58, the Wand Fight Team representative put any concerns Rebney had at ease.

“He looked like the guy we wanted to sign,” the CEO said of Vianna’s performance. “A lot of people had him listed as the top 185-pound unsigned prospect in the world. That’s why we signed him and that guy showed up tonight. It was beautiful ... I said, ‘Whatever it is you did over the last 30 days to prep for this fight, do it again.’ Hope against hope that’s the guy we’ll see.”

During Saturday’s postfight press conference at the Boardwalk Hall Ballroom, Vianna was reserved but confident as he looked forward to his next bout.

“Now I am focused for fighting the final next month,” Vianna said. “I want to train very hard to be ready, because it’s going to be a great war. I have a plan, but wait for next month.”

Shlemenko, meanwhile, has been down this road before. The 27-year-old Russian is the only man to take Lombard to that final bell, falling on the wrong end of an October 2010 unanimous decision. He’s been nearly as impressive as the champ, going 6-1 inside Bellator’s circular cage with four stoppages. With back-to-back wins over Brian Rogers and Zelg Galesic now under his belt, Shlemenko is one bout away from his rematch.

“After the quarterfinals, I said that my goal is to fight Hector again,” Shlemenko said. “I do my best and I’ll do everything possible in the finals to get the chance to fight Hector again. If I were to fight again with Hector, it would be a completely different fight, because I would be much more ready and I’d have a good chance of beating him.”

Asked why he chose to bring Shlemenko back for the fifth-season tournament, Rebney praised the flashy striker as “dominant and exciting.”

“[He’s] a great personality, this dour, aggressive Russian fighter that just comes to fight,” Rebney added. “He looked better against Hector Lombard, our champion, than anyone has looked. No one has put on the kind of fight [Shlemenko did]. There was no question about bringing him back.”

Shlemenko and Vianna will lock horns Nov. 19 in Hollywood, Fla., the same night on which Lombard will meet Trevor Prangley in a non-title affair. The season’s tournament winner, Rebney believes, will have earned a title shot and a challenge nearly unmatched in all of MMA.

“We have an incredibly dominant champion,” Rebney stated when asked about finding opponents for Lombard. “It’s not easy. I think, right now, when you look at Vitor Vianna and Alexander Shlemenko, we could provide a good test for Hector Lombard. I think he’s one of the best two middleweights on earth. I think Hector is an absolute monster.

“I think there’s one guy on earth right now that I would look at and say to myself, ‘He could beat Hector.’ His name is Anderson Silva. I don’t know that I would pick Anderson to beat Hector, but it would be one heck of a fight. We’ll see what happens with Alexander and Vitor, and one of those guys is going to come out with a big win.”

view original article >>
Report here if this news is invalid.
From Around the Web

Related News

  • 14 days ago
  • 9 views

Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) suspended Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) stars Anderson Silva, Nick Diaz, and Hector Lombard at the conclusion of its monthly meeting, which took place e read news >>

  • 21 days ago
  • 12 views

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will be well represented -- though not in a good way -- at the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) meeting on Feb. 17, 2015, which kicks off at 1 p.m. ET from read news >>

  • 20 days ago
  • 432 views

UFC commentator Joe Rogan certainly didn't mince words detailing the promotion's recent high profile drug test failures. "The UFC and MMA in general is a steroid epidemic," Rogan said this week on hi read news >>

  • 14 days ago
  • 442 views

Time to face the music. Well, sort of. Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will stream today's (Tues., Feb. 17, 2015) Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) live meeting, which is expected to hold read news >>

  • 14 days ago
  • 15 views

Anderson Silva, Nick Diaz, and Hector Lombard were all issued temporary suspensions by the Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC) at a commission meeting in Las Vegas, NV on Tuesday for their recent drug t read news >>

  • 14 days ago
  • 6 views

Temporary suspensions are going like hot cakes in the February 17th Nevada State Athletic Commission hearing. Anderson Silva, Nick Diaz, Hector Lombard, and Ashlee Evans-Smith's cases were all up for read news >>

  • 28 days ago
  • 14 views

Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight champion, Anderson Silva, flunked an out-of-competition drug test ahead of his comeback fight against Nick Diaz at UFC 183, which took place i read news >>

  • 26 days ago
  • 3 views

In a video released Thursday, veteran Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight Michael Bisping said that the news of Anderson Silva's test failure for performance-enhancing drugs has tarnished his read news >>

  • 23 days ago
  • 3 views

Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight champion Anderson Silva collected his fight purse from Nevada State Athletic Commission following his five-round unanimous decision win no con read news >>