New Champ in Big D (UFC 171 Review)

ufc_171The welterweight division was a bit of a mystery heading into UFC 171 as there was not champion with the rule of Georges St. Pierre over. A lot would be figured out at the fight though when the last #1 contender for the title would look to make good on a second chance while taking on a legend who was hoping his return to the UFC would be topped off by winning a title. Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler would face off for the vacant title to determine the first new champion since 2007 in the welterweight division. For both fighters winning the title would be the achievement of a lifetime but for Robbie Lawler the path was a bit longer. Lawler made his UFC debut in 2002 at UFC 37 and immediately made an impression. In his first three fights in the UFC he would earn a Unanimous Decision, TKO, and KO. His relentless pressure and KO power would make him a fighter to watch throughout the first part of his career. Then he would begin to lose in the UFC dropping two straight fights to Nick Diaz and Evan Tanner. Those would be his last two fights in the UFC as he would leave the promotion and begin a long time bouncing around the MMA world. It was an almost tragic result for Lawler as he seemed like a rising star in the UFC but would be relegated to the other promotions around the world. While in these promotions Lawler would amass an 8-1-1 record and would earn a spot in Strikeforce where he would look to make his run back to the UFC. Eventually he would find back to the UFC in 2013 when he took on Josh Koshcheck at UFC 157. That fight would begin an amazing comeback run for Lawler as he began to show that his time around other promotions was worth it to develop his skills. He would earn a TKO win over Koshcheck and then would add another KO win over Bobby Voelker and a split decision win over Rory McDonald. For his three fight win streak he would move quickly to the top of the rankings and when Georges St. Pierre vacated the title he was the choice for the UFC to fight for the title. His pressure fighting style and ability to KO almost anyone in the division would make him a good matchup against another striker. Lawler was looking to finally achieve the promise that he saw when he began in the UFC but he would need to go through a fighter that had almost beat one of the most dominant champions in the UFC. Johny Hendricks was just coming off of a title fight against Georges St. Pierre, a fight that most people thought Hendricks won, and would get another chance to earn the title in UFC 171. The fight would be built as a brawl between two fighters that love to stand and trade as neither of them have seen much of the mat. Still Hendricks was a world-class wrestler and would have the advantage if the fight went to the mat while Lawler has some of the best takedown defence in the division. That matchup plus the fact that both fighters have knockout power would mean that the fight would likely remain standing. When the fight started that is exactly what would happen as Hendricks would look to take the fight to the ground multiple times throughout the fight but would rarely earn the takedown. Instead the first two rounds would see Hendricks pick apart Lawler on the feet. Unlike his usual style Hendricks remained calm and did not lunge forward trying to end the fight immediately while risking getting caught. He would clearly dominate the fight for the first two rounds but in the third and fourth rounds would begin to give his lead back. Lawler would begin unloaded big shots and would eventually cut Hendricks under his right eye. Lawler was unleashes massive punch after massive punch in an effort that would have ended most fights. Hendricks would stay standing and live to fight in the 5th round that would serve as a sudden death round with the winner taking home the championship. Coming out for the final round Lawler looked exhausted after expending a lot of energy in the 3rd and 4th rounds. Hendricks would take advantage winning on the feet and eventually earning a takedown to end the fight. When the scores came in it was Johny Hendricks that would earn the belt that many believed he won against Georges St. Pierre. Robbie Lawler would take the loss but is a better fight than he was when he first entered the UFC and is sure to be back in title contention soon. Meanwhile Johny Hendricks will begin his reign as the UFC champion and will look towards potential fights including the most likely opponent, Rory McDonald. With a new champion the welterweight division final found some order again but the main event was not the only fight to sort out the welterweight division on the night.

Before the championship was determined two of the top welterweights in the UFC would face off to try to move up the division ladder. Hendricks and Lawler were ranked #1 and #2 in the division and would fight for the title but a number of other fighters are now looking to move up the rankings. Without Georges St. Pierre at the top a number of fighters who had lost to the champion were now eligible to make another run at a new title holder. This would be the case for the #3 fighter in the division in Carlos Condit who has already lost to GSP and now had a second chance to get a title shot. To get it he would have to take on a fast rising fighter in Tyron Woodley who was looking to enter the title conversation by beating a top contender. A win for Condit would mean a title shot against the winner of the main event while a win for Woodley would potentially put him into the top of the division depending on how impressively he won. Both fighters had plenty on the line in this fight as the welterweight division would find the next in line for the title. The fight was an even won as both fighters would get their own shots in scoring points along the way. They would generally stay standing with Woodley looking to take the fight to the ground but never staying there too long as Condit would get back to the feet quickly. In the second round would see Woodley earn a takedown and while there was not a lot done on the ground it would prove to be the difference. While on the ground Condit would wince in pain and grab his knee in what seemed like an injury. When the fight was brought back to the feet Woodley would throw a kick that would be checked by Condit sending the former #1 contender spinning. As Condit spun around the knee that he had seemingly injured before would finally give and send Condit to the mat. The fight would end as Condit would take the TKO loss thanks to the injury and Woodley would take the win against a top ranked fighter in the division. The loss for Condit will be a bump in the road of him getting another shot but he will likely be back when he recovers from his injury. Meanwhile Woodley would get the win but it was a strange win that was due to an injury that is not the most impressive way to win. Still it is a win against a top contender and although it won’t earn him a title shot it may put him one step closer to the chance to fight for the title as he may now be one fight away. It was yet another aspect to the division that would be solved in Dallas as a division without a champion would find a new one and figure out a lot more at UFC 171.

 

Fight Bonuses

Performance of the Night:
It was one of the most unusual ways to finish a fight in the history of the UFC when Ovince St. Preux would submit Nikita Krylov with a Von Flue Choke while Krylov attempted a guillotine choke and the move would give Preux an extra $50,000

Performance of the Night:
Dennis Bermudez wanted to make an impression in his fight against Jimi Hettes as he would look to show that his finishing ways are still there and he would do just that when he earned a TKO win and an extra $50,000 for the performance of the night

Fight of the Night:
The main event was built as a great brawl between two very good strikers and the fight would not disappoint as Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler would fight a full five round back and forth battle that would earn both fighters and extra $50,000

 

Fight Results

Main Event:
Johny “Bigg Rigg” Hendricks def. “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler [Welterweight Title]
(Unanimous Decision)

Main Card:
Tyron “The Chosen One” Woodley def. “The Natural Born Killer” Carlos Condit
(TKO; Rd. 2)

Myles “Fury” Jury def. Diego “The Dream” Sanchez
(Unanimous Decision)

Hector “Lightning” Lombard def. Jake Shields
(Unanimous Decision)

Ovince Saint Preux def. Nikita “Al Capone” Krylov
(Submission; Von Flue Choke, Rd. 1)

Undercard:
Kelvin Gastelum def. Rick “The Horror” Story
(Split Decision)

Jessica “Bate Estaca” Andrade def. Raquel “Rocky” Pennington
(Split Decision)

Dennis “The Menace” Bermudez def. Jimi “The Kid” Hettes
(TKO; Rd. 3)

Alex “The Dominican Nightmare” Garcia def. Sean “Black Magic” Spencer
(Split Decision)

Francisco “Frank” Trevino def. Renee Forte
(Unanimous Decision)

Justin “Tank” Scroggins def. Will Campuzano
(Unanimous Decision)

Sean “Tarzan” Strickland def. Bubba “The Menace” McDaniel
(Submission; Rear-Naked Choke, Rd. 1)

Robert “The Hammer: Whiteford def. Daniel “The Pit” Pineda
(Unanimous Decision)

 

Upcoming Events

UFC Fight Night 38: Shogun vs. Henderson (Sunday March 23rd; 7:00 pm ET)
Natal, Brazil (Ginásio Nélio Dias)
Main Event: Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. Dan “Hendo” Henderson
Notable: Cezar “Mutante” Ferreira vs. CB “The Doberman” Dolloway
Notable: Leonardo Santos vs. “Stormin” Norman Parke

UFC Fight Night 39: Minotauro vs. Nelson (Friday April 11th; 2:00 pm ET)
Abu Dhabi, UAE (Yas Island)
Main Event: Minotauro Nogueira vs. Roy “Big Country” Nelson
Notable: Clay “The Carpenter” Guida vs. Tatsuya “The Crusher” Kawajiri
Notable: John “Doomsday” Howard vs. Ryan LaFlare

TUF Nations Finale: Bisping vs. Kennedy (Wednesday April 16th; 7:00 pm ET)
Quebec City, Canada (Collisée Pepsi)
Main Event: Michael “The Count” Bisping vs. Tim Kennedy
Notable: Welterweight Final (Matchup TBD at the conclusion of the series)
Notable: Middleweight Final (Matchup TBD at the conclusion of the series)

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