UFC Fight Night 85 Predictions
Hector Lombard v Neil Magny prediction
The co main event for UFC Brisbane features surging welterweight Neil Magny attempting to score the biggest win of his career against explosive veteran Hector Lombard.
The starting point for the breakdown has to be the fact that Lombard is coming off a year’s suspension for a positive steroid test. Coupled with the fact that he’s 38 years old with over 40 fights of experience, you’d have to suspect that his days at the elite level are numbered. With that being said, he has looked superb since cutting to welterweight, after years of fighting successfully as a very small middleweight.
By contrast, Magny is a 28 year old who seems to make marked improvement from fight to fight. I doubt that he ever reaches the level of genuine title contender, but the fact is that since the start of 2014 he has had 10 UFC bouts, going 9-1 in the process. Somewhat tellingly, the one defeat was a decisive second round submission loss to Demian Maia, the sole top ten fighter he has faced in that time.
BREAKDOWN | UFC Fight Night 85 Predictions
One would think that at 6’3 with an 80 inch reach, Magny’s main mode of offence would be using these massive advantages to pick apart opponents from range. While it is true that he is a high pressure fighter who can rack up a high volume of significant strikes without getting tired, I still feel that he is defensively susceptible. He has a common trait of backing straight up against pressure fighters, allowing shorter fighters to get inside and crack him, with his most recent fight against Kelvin Gastelum an example of this.
Magny’s ground game seems to be his bread and butter, he is able to use his long arms to leverage the fight to the mat. On the mat, the back take seems to be his move of choice, where he will either look for the choke or batter his opponents with strikes. Defensively, he isn’t immune to being taken down, with 8 of his last 10 opponents being able to do so at least once. However, once there he is skilled at getting back up, with only the best grappler in the division in Maia able to thwart him.
While evidently not terrific at anything, it’s important to emphasise that he is a fighter who seems to be improving from fight to fight, and will overcome some of his technical deficiencies with his athletic gifts and strong cardio.
Hector Lombard is essentially an athletic specimen, with obvious stylistic parallels with another 38 year old Cuban, that being middleweight ATT team mate Yoel Romero. Every technique seems to be reliant upon fast-twitch muscle, with little thrown as a decoy or with any degree of subtlety. His signature strikes appear to be thudding leg kicks, as well as rushing combinations where he chases his opponent down with hard striking combinations with both hands. However, he is acutely aware that fighting in this manner lends itself to extreme fatigue later on in the fight, so will punctuate his bursts of offence with great spells of passivity, and even so will slow down as the fight progress.
As a former Olympic judoka, much like Romero most of his takedowns are power-based and basically amount to tossing his opponent to the floor. On the mat, he doesn’t generally look for submissions,but will alternate between powerful strikes and conserving his energy by just maintaining top position, depending upon how much gas is still in the tank. His takedown defence has been resolute thus far at welterweight, albeit in his final middleweight fight against Yushin Okami he was grounded for much of the first two rounds and offered little from bottom position.
PREDICTION | UFC Fight Night 85 Predictions
I firmly believe that pre-drugs ban Lombard defeats Magny, either by catching the chin as he backs into the cage and scoring an early knockout, or winning the first two rounds then coasting through the third. However, I have to take into account that he’s coming off a ban, and even prior to it had to seriously manage his cardio to ensure he had enough stamina throughout the fight.
In this revised context, I see him slowing down after a close first round, with Magny able to wear him down and get takedowns in the final two stanzas. Lombard has never been finished, and I don’t believe Magny has the firepower to do so, but a 29-28 decision seems like the most likely outcome.
With that being said, if Lombard turns up at the weigh-ins looking the same as always, there may be value in him as the underdog.
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