By Raphael Garcia
Within each division in the UFC there are a bevy of dangerous competitors, a list of fighters that are a threat to the title at a moment’s notice. The welterweight division is full of such athletes; the group’s title picture seems to be wide open. The co-main event at UFC Fight Night 85 will shed some immediate light on the situation, as two men with a clear path to the belt face off.
UFC Fight Night 85 features a bout with two important but potentially lesser-known competitors. On one side, there is Hector Lombard, the former Bellator champion and Olympic judoka who is known for his devastating power and throws. On the other is Neil Magny, a durable and active fighter who’s still looking to gain some respect for what he’s done during his UFC run. While Magny’s climb to this opportunity has been slow, Lombard came into the organization with an ample amount of hype. Unfortunately for the Cuba native, that hype was halted after his win over Josh Burkman at UFC 182 was overturned due to a failed drug test. This forced Lombard out of the title picture at a time in which the division was in need of a clear-cut challenger for its champion, Robbie Lawler.
This is exactly why both Magny and Lombard need this win on Saturday. For Lombard, his name already carries enough attraction to allow him to reenter the title picture after such a long layoff. Before the failed drug test he was on the short list of potential challengers. Even before that, when he joined the UFC in 2012 he was considered one win away from a shot at the middleweight belt. That opportunity never came, but he’s stayed around the 170-pound title picture. A win, especially in impressive fashion, over Magny pushes him right back towards the top of a division looking for a credible challenger.
Demian Maia in a fashion that left many questioning whether he was ready for bigger opportunities. Since that defeat, he’s won two straight, both on short notice, to regain some of the momentum that was lost with that hiccup in Brazil. A win over Lombard would be the biggest victory of his six-year professional career, and it would create an opportunity for him to call out the biggest names in the division for a title-eliminator.
The UFC welterweight division is wide open. Lawler’s win over Condit at UFC 195 left the entire weight class in a holding pattern until someone emerges as the true number one contender. Both Magny and Lombard are in a position to step into the spotlight and stake a claim if one of them can pull out an exciting win at UFC Fight Night 85.
UFC Fight Night 85
• Hector Lombard vs. Neil Magny
UFC Fight Night 85: Hunt vs. Mir (formerly UFC Fight Night 84: Hunt vs. Mir) takes place on March 20, 2016 at Brisbane Entertainment Centre in Brisbane, Australia. Due to time differences, it will air on March 19, 2016.