Hector Lombard insists he is getting no
love from his compatriots in South Florida. Born in Matanzas, Cuba, Bellator's middleweight champ is a fast-rising star in professional mixed martial arts. Yet he is not getting any recognition from South Florida's Cuban community, Lombard laments as he prepares for his Saturday-night headlining match at the
Hard Rock Live in Hollywood. "I have more fans in Australia," Lombard says. "I don't
feel the love from Cubans in Miami like you see for [boxing champ]
Yuri Gamboa and Cuban MMA fighters born here."
A 185-pound brute with a black belt in
Brazilian jujitsu, Lombard has won 32 of his 34 professional
matches since he defected from Cuba while participating in an amateur
contest in Queensland in 2006.
Australia has been his primary home ever since, although he lives part-time in Boca Raton, which is a world away from Hialeah and Miami, the most Cuban-American cities in America.
Lombard's professional career began with the Pride Fighting Championship, where he notched the only two losses on his record -- both by decision. No one has knocked Lombard out or beaten him with a submission hold. Meanwhile, Lombard has won 16 bouts by knockout and seven each by submission and decision.
Last week, Bellator Fighting Championships founder Bjorn Rebney bragged to MMA reporters that Lombard was the best middleweight in the sport. The only fighter who might possibly defeat him is UFC middleweight champ Anderson Silva, Rebney boasted.
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During a brief phone interview, Lombard wasn't shy about his championship pedigree. The jujitsu master told Riptide he was annoyed by Rebney's comments. "I don't believe Silva can hang with me."
Then he spoke candidly about not having a Cuban fan base following him.