An expectant crowd gathered in the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas on Saturday night with the knowledge that they would witness the crowning of the new king of the 170 lb division. The powers that be decided that a bout between Johny Hendricks and a resurgent Robbie Lawler.
Should decide the successor to the throne George St Pierre sat on for over 6 years. The event might also give an indication of the future of the division with two other welterweight fights on the main card deciding ultimately deciding who will be first in line to take on the new champ.
Johny Hendricks entered the main event as the favourite after nearly beating GSP at UFC 167. However, it was Lawler who got the better of the early exchanges with his strong left hand connecting with venom. After a brief clinch and some thudding knees to the thigh by Hendricks, the pair traded ferocious combinations. Lawler stuffed a couple of takedown attempts before Hendricks mixed it up by landing stinging leg kicks and precision punches. The round ended with Hendricks clinching at the cage.
Lawler drew first blood in the second round, landing flush with his reliable left hook. Then, the two started trading bombs while Hendricks had continued success with his leg kicks and even scored a big knee to the head of Lawler. “Ruthless” sprawled to stuff another takedown attempt but Hendricks punished him by landing dizzying combinations of hooks, straights, uppercuts and kicks. He looked completely control despite eating a massive left hook as the bell rang.
The Demented Grin Of Ruthless
“Bigg Rigg” continued landing flurries of strikes with aplomb at the beginning of the third round. Lawler seemed to enjoy the constant barrage of punishment, as a demented grin washed over his face after each bruising punch. Lawler began returning fire and a tit-for-tat stand-up battle followed.
Lawler caught Hendricks with a huge left hook that left him stumbling around the Octagon with his hands by his waist in a punch-drunken stupor. Lawler began letting his hands go and while a few devastating haymakers landed, Hendricks was able to recover by clinching off yet another failed takedown attempt. By the end of the round, he was back mixing it up with kicks and combos.
Both fighters came out swinging as we entered championship rounds. A big knee and right jab combination from Lawler left Hendricks bleeding profusely from his right eye. Lawler wobbled Hendricks with a forceful left uppercut but he was able to recover to fire off a flurry of punches. Hendricks finally scored a takedown and attempted a guillotine choke as the bell sounded.
The two warriors entered the fifth and final round knowing that the belt was still up for grabs having shared the spoils of the first four rounds evenly. Lawler threw the first blow, connecting with his dangerous left hook. “Ruthless” Robbie stuffed another takedown in spectacular fashion before Hendricks clinched at the cage and began crashing knees to his opponent’s thigh until the referee separated them.
The pair traded colossal punches but Lawler connected with more ferocity, scoring two right hooks in quick succession. Hendricks appeared to have the greater engine and rocked Lawler with three left hands before taking the fight to the mat, where they stayed for the remainder of the bout. Lawler looked visibly distraught as he felt the welterweight title slipping out of his bruised and bloodied hands.
Hendricks Gets The Decision
All three judges scored the fight 48-47 giving Hendricks the decision victory and making him the new welterweight champion. The fight was also given the Fight of the Night accolade which carries a $50,000 bonus for each fighter.
A fight between former WEC and Interim UFC champion Carlos Condit and Tyron Woodley provided the supporting act for the night. Woodley started as the aggressor landing strong right hands from the get-go and following them up with a clinical combination. “T-Wood” engaged a clinch at the fence and landed nasty knees and a big uppercut as the pair released.
“The Natural Born Killer” scored a head kick before being taken down by Woodley. Condit tried to lock in an arm triangle submission but was picked up and slammed to the canvas. Woodley scored another brief takedown and the round ended with both fighters trading shots on their feet.
Condit began to find his range in the second and he landed a number of head kicks early in the round. Woodley connected with a massive right and shot in for another takedown. Condit winced as he landed and appeared to be struggling with his leg on the mat.
The referee stood them back up and Woodley finished the fight with a huge leg kick TKO. Condit buckled and fell to the ground in agony as Woodley’s shin connected with his knee which forced the referee to stop the fight. Woodley may have the prospect of a title fight with Johny Hendricks to look forward to while Condit’s injury should see him spend a significant amount of time sidelined outside the cage.
Diego Sanchez vs Myles Jury
Next on the card TUF season one winner and all-round psychopath Diego Sanchez took on the up and coming, undefeated Myles Jury in the lightweight division. Jury landed the first significant strike, a hefty right hand to the jaw. Jury controlled the first round, working off the jab and circling away from Sanchez’s telegraphed bursts of flurries.
Sanchez caught Jury with a short right hand on one of his advances forcing him to clinch against the cage. “The Nightmare” drove a couple of thudding knees to Jury’s thigh before the clinch broke up. Jury landed a heavy body kick before scoring a takedown in the closing moments of the round.
Sanchez started aggressively in the second round landing a body kick followed by a quick combination. “The Fury” responded by rocking his opponent with a pummelling overhand right followed by a head kick. Sanchez recovered but was noticeably slower after this exchange and continued to eat jabs and kicks for the rest of the round. “The Nightmare” tried to work a guillotine submission after being taken down late on but he never got close to locking it in.
Sanchez appeared disheartened and a little gassed in the final round. He saw that his game plan wasn’t working and his intensity dwindled as a result. Jury, on the other hand, dominated, using his athleticism to move out of trouble and consistently land jabs.
Jury scored a flying knee followed by another takedown towards the death and the fight ended with another failed guillotine attempt by Sanchez. The judges scored the fight 30-27, 30-27, 29-28 giving Jury the unanimous decision victory.
Jake Shields vs Hector Lombard
Former Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Shields battled it out with Hector Lombard in the third welterweight fight of the main card. Lombard started at a lightning pace throwing Shields to the ground in the opening seconds. Shields stood back up and threw a leg kick which Lombard caught and used to push him back down to the mat. After Lombard stuffed a takedown attempt, both fighters entered into a clinch at the cage.
“Lightning” Lombard tagged his opponent with a solid hook as they released, opening up a wound on Shield’s face. After failing to take down Lombard, Shields found himself in trouble with his back to the cage, as the Cuban unloaded thunderous uppercuts and knees. Shields managed to bring the fight to the ground and pull guard to survive the first round.
Lombard countered a kick with a big uppercut early in the second before scoring a takedown. Shields pulled guard and the referee stood them back up. Shields attempted a takedown of his own but didn’t set it up with strikes and his effort was easily stuffed. Lombard managed to score a judo throw and saw out the round from the top position but decided against showcasing his ground and pound.
Back And Forth!
After landing a big right and sprawling to stop a takedown, Lombard responded with a takedown of his own. Again, Shields pulled guard and the referee stood them back up. The Cuban took the fight back to the canvas almost immediately and again the referee was forced to intervene to get the fighters to work.
Shields landed a big knee and locked in that elusive submission he was looking for. Unfortunately for Shields, the bell rang before his guillotine choke could out Lombard to sleep. Lombard won the decision victory 30-27, 30-27, 29-28.
The opening fight of the night was a light heavyweight contest between Ovince St Preux and Nikita Krylov. OSP came hurtling out the gates, scoring a body kick before taking the Ukranian down and transitioning into side control in one smooth movement.
Krylov attempted to choke OSP out via guillotine but this was countered by an extremely rare Von Flue choke by the American which put his opponent to sleep 1:29 into the first round. OSP earned the Performance of the Night bonus with the submission victory.
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