Neil Magny Finishes Hector Lombard in Controversial Co-Main Event

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Neil Magny Finishes Hector Lombard in Controversial Co-Main Event

Neil Magny had the performance of a lifetime this past weekend in Brisbane, Australia at UFC Fight Night 85: Hunt vs. Mir. In a polar opposite stylistic matchup, Neil Magny absolutely annihilated Cuban powerhouse Hector Lombard with his superior speed, endurance, grappling, and combination striking.

Lombard came into this fight after a 15 month layoff due to a positive test for PED desoxymethyltestosterone, a designer steroid synthesized to evade enhanced drug testing. Once known to fans as “Lightning,” Lombard landed big punches and forced Magny to weather the early storm. Somehow, Magny managed to survive the onslaught and get back to his feet, eventually breaking the clinch and re-establishing his outside striking game.

Lombard was visibly exhausted after emptying his gas tank trying to finish Magny in the opening frame. The Elevation Fight Team standout continued to pour on his offense with volume striking, but got too comfortable in the pocket and ate a monstrous straight left hand from the Cuban juggernaut. Lombard attempted an ill-advised leg-lock attack that enabled Magny to reverse position, and it was all downhill from that point onward. Magny spent the remainder of the second round on top of Lombard, battering his foe with his long reach and relentless ground-and-pound, achieving full mount and flattening Lombard out on his stomach. What happened next drew the ire of MMA fans around the world. Referee Steve Perceval allowed Magny to land a record 142 ground strikes, many of which were landed on an unresponsive Lombard, who had no answer for Magny’s assault once the fight hit the floor. He covered up during moments of the barrage, but offered no other defense and absolutely zero offense from the bottom. Perceval audibly warned Lombard as the final 90 seconds of the second round came to a close, but did not stop the fight. Magny even looked up at the referee in astonishment, imploring him to stop the fight. It became unequivocally clear that Lombard was taking too much punishment and was not getting up.

As the third and final round began, Lombard was on wobbly legs and appeared dazed and confused every time Magny landed, even stumbling while throwing punches of his own. As Magny completed a takedown and easily passed to full mount, he began battering Lombard’s already bloodied face before locking in a mounted triangle and hammerfisting his opponent with urgency and aggression.

At least this time, Perceval mercifully waved off the fight. Magny was victorious in arguably the biggest win of his career against possibly the scariest power puncher in the division.

There are many points to take away from this fight: the importance of endurance, diversity of attack, and game planning are not to be undervalued.

Equally important, however, is the referee’s duty to stop the fight when it’s abundantly clear one fighter is not intelligently defending himself.

We can also draw some conclusions about the optimal amount of muscle mass for a fighter to carry for a particular weight class. Lombard has the power to knockout any man at any weight, but that doesn’t make it wise for him to rely on that power and a singular strategic goal if he is to remain relevant in an increasingly evolved MMA landscape.

With the loss, Lombard announced he is moving back up to middleweight, largely due to his difficulty in rehydrating without the use of an IV. While he had mixed success in the UFC at 185 lbs (losing to Tim Boetsch and Yushin Okami and knocking out similarly built Rousimar Palhares), he claims it will improve his health and his performance.

Concerns for fighter safety and health are higher than ever, and this bout exemplifies both of those concerns. Late stoppages may have untold consequences for head trauma and brain function, especially later in life, long after a fighter retires. Fighters like Jamie Varner have retired early, even for athletes due to concussions from sparring and fighting with existing concussions. Large weight cuts are also to blame, as the brain takes up to 72 hours to rehydrate from a weight cut, exacerbating the damage sustained from blows to the head of a dehydrated fighter.

Hopefully, this bout will serve as part of a continued learning experience for fighters, their teams and management, and the UFC itself as we all learn more about fighter safety and health.

On the bright side, Neil Magny earned his biggest win to date and has now won 10 of his past 11 fights at welterweight. With the win, he improves his spot in the rankings and puts himself in title contention in the near future.

The welterweight landscape has never been more saturated with talent and deserving contenders, with top contender Tyron Woodley awaiting his shot at Robbie Lawler’s title, the winners of Rory Macdonald vs. Stephen Thompson and Matt Brown vs. Demian Maia, and the aforementioned Neil Magny all vying for UFC gold.

Stay tuned, as the next several months bear some of the biggest fights ever booked in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

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