Friday, March 2, 2007

Win streak gone, UFC's Lambert refocuses


Jason Lambert doesn't need much motivation to climb back into the octagon. The last time he appeared in an Ultimate Fighting Championship event at UFC 63 on Sept. 23, the Carlsbad resident was knocked out by Rashad Evans, a fellow emerging talent in the light-heavyweight division.

The loss ended a 28-month winning streak for Lambert (22-6), a span that included eight victories. And while he had lost five times prior to that, Lambert said the defeat still affected him. It was, after all, his first time on live pay-per-view television.

"It took a couple of weeks," Lambert said. "(Losses) all bring something different. They all have their own unique feeling. I actually was on quite a big streak (going in), which is uncommon for this sport.

"It kind of humbled me, refocused me."

Lambert's newest focus is opponent Renato "Babalu" Sobral.

Sobral carries a 27-6 record into Saturday's matchup at UFC 68 in Columbus, Ohio, and is also coming off a loss in his last fight. He was knocked out by light-heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell at UFC 62 on Aug. 26.

Sobral is widely considered a dangerous opponent, who is looking to bounce back from a tough loss. And that's motivation enough for Lambert.

"I've been training really hard," Lambert said. "I think a loss motivates me more. I don't want to lose again. I know I need to train hard at getting everything in line and making sure all my skills and cardio are up to task."

Manager Jeff Clark said Lambert is in better shape than he was for September's fight. Clark said that an injury to Lambert's knee slowed his cardio and that his fighter had to drop 15 pounds to make weight against Evans.

"This time he's coming in 100 percent better shape than last time," Clark said.

"He's in the best shape I've seen him in a long time. When your knees hurt, it's hard. He was over 220 pounds and this one he's already on weight." Said Lambert: "My cardio is right where I want it. I had some things happen in the last fight ... that's sports. Not everything's perfect. I feel great for this one."

Lambert has worked on perfecting his boxing of late. And though he expects this match to go to the ground, he plans on using a little stand-up technique too.

"I'd be a fool to say it's not going to be somewhat of a grappling match," Lambert said. "But I'm going to try and disengage a bit and let my boxing come through."

The last time he lost ---- Nov. 13, 2003 ---- Lambert disengaged from mixed-martial arts for almost six months. In May 2004, he started his win streak. Clark isn't worried that Lambert, who has again had almost six months since his last bout, has been away for too long.

"It's way better to have a little time off," Clark said. "Up until his last fight (Lambert) was too busy. It starts to break you down mentally. It takes time to get back the motivation."


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