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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
Bellator Fighting Championships no longer has a Middleweight Champion, as Hector Lombard is on his way to the UFC.
Lombard's contract with the organization expired earlier this year, and he entered a matching period where he could field offers elsewhere, with Bellator retaining the right to match any deal offered. Lombard received a contract offer from the UFC last week, and Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney on Tuesday revealed that they have opted not to match the deal.
Ultimately, it came down to the different business policies between the two companies, as Bellator could not contend with what the UFC was offering.
"We have a business model where we make decisions based on analyzing data," Rebney said in an interview with MMAFighting.com. "Since the first day we came into being, we made decisions based on real models, not hypotheticals. The UFC model is largely based on pay-per-view, and the offer they made to Hector is going to be monetized via pay-per-view. While pay-per-view could play a role in our future, today it doesn't. So, we did our due diligence to review the UFC contract, analyze in terms of charging our audience to see Hector vs. putting him on free TV, and we decided to allow the UFC to sign Hector, where I am extremely confident he will win the UFC middleweight title on pay-per-view."
Rebney doesn't begrudge Lombard continuing his career elsewhere, and holds a lot of respect for one of the very first fighters he signed for Bellator.
"He was a great fighter here, and there's no doubt in my mind he'll be a great fighter when he goes to the UFC," Rebney said. "I've said for a long time he's the best middleweight in the world, and I think he'll win the UFC title in short order."
Penick's Analysis: Lombard's going to make a great addition to the UFC's middleweight roster, and we'll finally find out just how good he is. It's hard to assert your dominance or effectively showcase your skills against fighters that aren't close to your level, and that's the inherent problem facing the best of the best outside of the UFC. Now he'll get a chance to showcase just who he is and just how good he can be when he faces some of the best in the Octagon.
[Hector Lombard photo (c) Henry Dziekan III]
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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