Rousimar Palhares made himself easy pickings for former Bellator champion Hector Lombard in Lombard's adopted homeland of Australia, circling into the powerful Cuban's power hand time after time and paying a steep price for his low fight I.Q.
Palhares always seems to find a way to lose in most spectacular fashion, once even getting knocked out while he tried to engage the referee in conversation in the middle of the fight. This time there was nothing so comical. He was simply knocked silly by a left hand, prompting Lombard to swarm, a single man who could have easily been mistaken for a pack of wild dogs.
And, just like that, the UFC's big free agent signing of 2012 had his hand raised for the first time in the Octagon. Highly touted coming into the big leagues, the win had to be a huge weight off his shoulders, especially after he unexpectedly dropped his first fight in the promotion to Tim Boetsch earlier this year.
But Lombard didn't take much time to celebrate. Something else, something more powerful even than his momentous victory at the "Super Bowl of mixed martial arts." Lombard was focused like a laser on an emotion even more powerful than joy—pure, unadulterated hate.
Emotion overpowered him before he even left the cage. Announcer Jon Anik had trouble getting him to walk through his amazing knockout, because he seemed to visualize someone other than Palhares laying on the ground.
"I would like to do that to Michael Bisping," he said as the crowd cheered wildly for the hometown fighter competing for the 22nd time in Australia.
Bisping. It's always Bisping. Every fighter in the UFC's middleweight division seems to be constantly beefing with the British veteran. It's hard to put into words exactly why that is.
It could be the sneer, one permanently etched on his face.
It could be his star status, one some fighters don't think he's earned in the cage.
Could it be his inclination to spit on his opponent's cornermen?
Maybe it's his blistering tongue and the fact that he tends to always back up his talk in the cage?
Former opponent Jason "Mayhem" Miller tried to put Bisping's lack of popularity into perspective in an interview earlier this year with Heavy MMA:
Now that Osama is dead, Bisping is the most hated man in America. Everybody hates that guy. I wonder what it's like to actually be hated that much. You would have to put a terrorist attack together to be hated any more than he is.
That may be heavy on the hyperbole, with tongue planted firmly in cheek. But there is a grain of truth there—Bisping is not a popular man, either with his peers or the fans. Lombard, it seems, will be no exception, as the two became mortal enemies almost immediately upon Lombard's arrival in the promotion.
Lombard, you see, was being suggested as a potential opponent for UFC champ Anderson Silva, a matchup Bisping found ridiculous, citing the Bellator veteran's lack of UFC experience and world-class opposition.
Fair enough, right? You can argue about Lombard's potential, but Bisping was on the money—Lombard hasn't faced consistent UFC-level competition. Had he left it there, it would have been an honest disagreement. But Bisping is not one to let things go at "reasonable." He's more of a "preposterous statement"kind of guy, an inclination he showed at UFC 149, where he put Lombard on blast in spectacular fashion.
"I saw Hector Lombard in the elevator yesterday and I thought someone was playing a practical joke," Bisping said at the UFC 149 Fan Club Q&A in July. "It was like, who is this little poison dwarf? I'm like come on, seriously? Seriously? This is the guy with all the hype? I think he's in the wrong weight class. There's a 125 weight class he should be in though."
That, it escalated quickly. Five months later, those comments were still planted in Lombard's brain, where they will likely remain until the two can settle their differences the old-fashioned way.
"That's my wish," Lombard told the media after the fight. "...I really, really want to make that fight happen."
Here's hoping it's a wish that gets granted, the sooner, the better.
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