With the recent revelation that UFC import Dan Henderson (25-7) will fight for Strikeforce at an as-yet-unannounced April event on CBS, speculation immediately turned to whom the dual-weight class star would be fighting.
While initial reports have suggested that Strikeforce middleweight champ Jake Shields is a likely first step, another MMA title-holder has volunteered for the contest, as well.
Bellator middleweight champion Hector Lombard (22-2-1) told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com
) he's itching for the chance to prove himself on the big stage.
"I would sign that contract today," Lombard said. "Dan Henderson is a great fighter and a legend in the sport, but I know I have the skills to beat him."
Lombard currently trains with American Top Team, and he carries a 16-fight unbeaten streak. Lombard made his U.S. debut earlier this year in Bellator's debut middleweight tournament, and the 31-year-old ran through Jared Hess, Damien Stelly and Virgil Lozano en route to capturing the promotion's 185-pound title.
Lombard will await the winner of Bellator's second eight-man tournament, set to begin in April, for his first defense of his title. In the meantime, he's ready to stay active and test himself against a former two-division PRIDE champion.
"U.S. fans have only seen a little of my abilities," Lombard said. "Fighting and beating Dan Henderson would let me show the world what I'm capable of."
Lombard hasn't lost since a 2006 decision to current Strikeforce champ Gegard Mousasi. His only other career defeat came to UFC and PRIDE veteran Akihiro Gono. Meanwhile, Lombard has earned 17 of his 22 career wins by stoppage.
Lombard's managers, Malki Kawa and Ricky Llorente of First Round Management, said Bellator officials have given Lombard their blessing to pursue the fight.
"(Bellator CEO) Bjorn Rebney has told us he's on board with Lombard taking this fight," Kawa said. "Obviously Hector will need to defend his title in 2010, but in the meantime, he'd really like to make this fight happen. Thankfully, Bjorn understands how Bellator can also benefit from a great performance by Hector at Strikeforce – not to mention what a great fight it would be for all MMA fans."
So with Henderson's first Strikeforce opponent still uncertain, Lombard said he's ready and willing.
"I look forward to hearing something from Strikeforce," Lombard said. "I know they want to put on a great show on such a big stage, and I promise I can give that to them."
But for Lombard, just putting on a show isn't enough. He's got more specific goals in mind.
"I want Dan Henderson – period."