Friday, May 4, 2012

A state of affairs: Hector Lombard's UFC plan and Invicta FC

Last week was a slow one in terms of fights in the major MMA promotions, so I gave my monthly ranking discussion and talked about Bellator signings.

By the way, that Bellator article here also previewed tonight's fights. Check it out if you want a guide to the fights or want to go online and try to make a little extra cash (no guarantees though).

One thing I didn't get to mention was that Hector Lombard is going to fight Brian Stann on the UFC on Fox 4 card this summer, and this article notes that UFC President Dana White may very well give the winner of that fight (specifically if it's Lombard) the next title shot.

Assuming that Lombard wins (and for the record, I'm not so sure that's a gimme), this is the best move UFC could make business-wise. They would have a champion vs. champion match with two guys who would have won main events for the company, and there would be an angry Michael Bisping waiting in the wings for the winner. Heck, if Sonnen wins, there's a return match for Anderson Silva against either the winner or Bisping.

These are some exciting options, and before anyone goes off on how Bisping has earned it, yes, he has been on a hot streak. However, the man has lost in pretty spectacular fashion over the years, and it's not like his recent wins put his stock vastly above the penalties given for losing to Wanderlei Silva and Sonnen. There's a legitimate argument that he needs another win.

Moreover, at Lombard's age the UFC can't wait on him anymore. He's in his mid-30s already, so if a fight can be sold with him on a 20-something fight win streak, a Bellator title he vacated to come to the UFC, and a win in the Octagon under his belt, why shouldn't Dana White sell the fight?

To me, this is one of the few intriguing matchups left for the champion if he gets past Sonnen. It's a man who hasn't faced him. It's a man who hasn't lost since 2006 and has never been finished in a fight. It's a man who Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney said could only be challenged by Silva.

Though I believe that last one is a load, that's how an opponent needs to be hyped. With Silva, it's hard to tell at his age how much longer he will want to fight. He wants challenges, and one way to test him is to give him other champions who he's never faced.

I hope that Lombard wins his next fight, as no matter who wins the Silva-Sonnen rematch, it should be a fun fight.

Besides the UFC, something happened in American MMA that was of great significance last weekend. Invicta FC held its first event.

What makes this important is that Invicta ran an all-female event. This promotion is relying on no male fighters (and very few who were even in Strikeforce) to put together a fight card.

Marloes Coenen headlined the card, winning by decision against Romy Ruyssen before calling out Ronda Rousey for her 135-lb. championship. 

First off, make that match happen! After Kaufman, Coenen would be an amazing matchup. Have Miesha Tate fight Alexis Davis to determine the challenger after that.

More importantly, though, putting on a full fight card with all women is a huge step forward for women's MMA. It shows that the women do have depth that could get them into the UFC.

The only problem, though, is that the card used five weight classes to fill itself. What makes that a drawback is that if no division has to be responsible for more than three fights, then the division cannot really show true depth.

If, however, Invicta can keep running shows on a somewhat consistent basis, then the full power of the divisions could be seen, and maybe the UFC would be willing to absorb the 135 and one other weight class.

To do that, though, the cards will have to remain successful. Tachi Palace actually may be a good model for how to keep a regional promotion solvent. Invicta showed a great bit of production prowess on their card (the 15 minutes of dead air between co-main and main event excluded) and could draw people in to keep itself around.

This is a point where the health of the sport needs big-time supporters, and hopefully this promotion holds water for at least a year or two. Because running monthly to semi-monthly means sustained divisional depth, and sustained divisional depth means the UFC may accept some weight classes.

And if the UFC accepts women's weight classes, then that's when women's MMA hits a new stratosphere.

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