The second fight on the UFC 171 main card is a three-round welterweight bout between Hector “Lightning” Lombard and Jake Shields. The current betting line for the fight at 5Dimes Sportsbook lists Lombard as a -220 favorite (bet $220 to win $100) while Shields is a +180 underdog (bet $100 to win $180). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas originally opened up Lombard at -165 and Shields at +125, meaning the betting public likes the favorite Lombard in this fight. I am actually going to go against the grain here and call the upset, as I’m picking Shields to win the fight. Here’s why. Lombard is the former Bellator middleweight champion. The 36-year-old Cuban is a former Olympian judoka but since becoming an MMA fighter it’s his knockout power that has won him fights, and he has 19 wins in his career by T/KO. He also has a solid resume that includes wins over Nate Marquardt, Rousimar Palhares, Alexander Shlemenko, and Brian Ebersole. When Lombard came to the UFC two years ago he was supposed to be a middleweight title contender, but after going 1-2 as a 185er the UFC told him to move to 170 and now that he’s at welterweight he’s more evenly sized with his opponents. His welterweight debut, which took place last October at UFC 166, was a success as he defeated Marquardt via KO in a very impressive performance and now the UFC has given him a chance to face off against Shields, one of the division’s top contenders. And win a win, Lombard could very well get the chance to fight for a UFC title. Shields (29-6, 1 NC) is the former Strikeforce middleweight champion. He is known for his excellent wrestling and heavy top control game, as well as his solid chin and world-class BJJ skills. The 35-year-old American has gone 18-2, 1 NC over his last 21 fights and in the UFC he has a record of 4-2, 1 NC. In his MMA career Shields holds notable victories over Dan Henderson, Carlos Condit, Robbie Lawler, Mike Pyle, Tyron Woodley, Yoshihiro Akiyama, Demian Maia and Yushin Okami, which is one of the most incredible resumes in the sport when you really think about it. However, despite his winning record, Shields does’t have a great reputation amongst fans because of his grinding style (he has 16 career wins via decision), and because of that he is stuck in a Jon Fitch situation where he has to keep knocking off contenders if he’ll ever sniff another title shot again. Personally, I don’t agree with the hate towards Shields as he wins fights and I believe the fans should appreciate a winner, but at the same time he hasn’t won a fight via stoppage in nearly five years. Still, he’s been winning fights and if he can add Lombard to his resume, the UFC is going to have a hard time denying him a title shot, or at the very least a No. 1 contender’s fight. There’s no doubt Lombard is super dangerous on the feet, but he is still unproven as a welterweight and with a tough weight cut to 170 pounds I only think he will have about one round of gas. So if he doesn’t knock Shields out in the first five minutes he will be in trouble. Like in the Henderson fight, I think Lombard may be able to land on Shields’ chin early, but I think Shields will be able to recover, compose himself, and then wins round two and three by pushing Lombard against the fence and grind him out to take home a decision win and move on step closer to a UFC title shot. At +180, I like Shields for a small bet as I believe this is much closer fight than the odds are indicating and therefore I see a lot of value in the line. It’s possible money comes in on Lombard on fight day and the line gets even better, but I think anything above +170 on Shields has some value. As far as props go, I see the fight going the three rounds with Shields winning a decision and the prop on that is +300 and I think that’s worth a flier as well.
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