Originally written on 5thRound.com  |  Last updated 4/18/12

Reigning Bellator middleweight champ Hector Lombard (Pictured) quietly became MMA’s hottest free agent earlier this year. As expected, the UFC has made the 34-year-old an offer that is leaving Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney contemplating his next move.  

If we were to use NFL lingo, Lombard is a restricted free agent and Bellator has the right to match any competitor’s deal.

“We’ve received the final proposed UFC agreement from Hector’s attorney, and right now we are in the process of reviewing it to determine whether we’re going to match the agreement,” Rebney told Sherdog. “We’ve got the 60 pages of UFC contract that were forwarded to us by Hector’s counsel.

“Out of respect for Hector, I think we will turn [the UFC contract] around very quickly. Obviously, we have a huge event coming up Friday [Bellator 66]. As soon as that is over, we will sit down with our partners and go through the UFC contract line-for-line and make a strategic decision whether we’re going to match it or pass.”

Lombard has rattled off 24 consecutive wins and is considered to be one of the top 185-pounders not competing in the Octagon. He was last seen posting a TKO victory over Trevor Prangley at “Bellator 58” this past November in a 195-pound catchweight bout.

Rebney has a tough decision on his hands. Will he match the lucrative contract the world’s premier MMA promotion offered one of his biggest stars or allow him to walk? If the verdict turns out to be the latter, Rebney wants Lombard to do Bellator proud.

“The reality is that Hector is going to do extremely well whether he is fighting in the Octagon or the Bellator circle, and I think everybody knew that,” Rebney said. [If we pass, we will] wish him the best and let him go knock out everybody in the UFC.”

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