UFC 171 takes place Saturday night from Dallas, Texas with a series of high profile welterweight contests. In the main event, Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler will fight to crown a new UFC welterweight champion. Longtime champion Georges St. Pierre elected to take a sabbatical from the sport following a controversial decision win over Hendricks, leaving the division’s top prize up for grabs. Many felt Hendricks defeated St. Pierre and now the former NCAA wrestling champion with explosive knockout power will look to win the title he prizes so highly. Lawler has traveled a remarkable path to reach this point. He was considered one of the UFC's biggest future stars a decade ago, only to suffer a series of losses that dropped him out of the company. He was something of a journeyman middleweight when a trio of impressive wins in his return to the UFC earned him this spot. In the semi-main event, top contenders Carlos Condit and Tyron Woodley will fight looking to lock up the shot at the winner of the main event.
In preliminary action on UFC’s internet Fight Pass service, Robert Whiteford earned a unanimous decision win over Daniel Pineda. Sean Strickland impressed in his UFC debut, submitting Bubba McDaniel with a rear naked choke in the first round. Undefeated prospect Justin Scoggins scored a dominant unanimous decision victory over Will Campuzano. And Francisco Trevino overcame early trouble to best Renee Forte via unanimous decision.
UFC welterweight title: Johny Hendricks vs. Robbie Lawler
Hendricks was a dominant collegiate wrestler, twice winning the NCAA Division I title and finishing as an All American four times at Oklahoma State. He then added a quality striking game and explosive knockout power to his game. His latest fight against Georges St. Pierre was a heartbreaking and widely criticized decision loss and Hendricks now has a chance to get that title. Lawler was once thought to be a future dominant welterweight but he hit a lot of roadblocks on the way to this title shot. The prodigal son now returns to the position he was once firmly targeted for.
Round 1. Hendricks lands a leg kick to start. Lawler moves in with power punches and lands a series of big shots to the head. The crowd chants for Johny. Hendricks moves in and clinches. He presses Lawler against the cage and looks for a takedown. Hendricks can't get it so he throws a couple punches to the head and backs off. Hendricks then shoots for another takedown. Lawler defends nicely. Hendricks lands a knee to the body and backs off. He follows with a leg kick and a few punches. He hits Lawler with a good power punch and backs off. Lawler throws a few jabs and a straight punch that connects pretty well. Hendricks hits Lawler with a left punch and shoots in for another takedown attempt. Lawler defends well again. 10-9 Hendricks.
Round 2. Hendricks starts out a lot more active, throwing out lots of shots from different angles while Lawler sits back and looks to land a big power shot. Hendricks punishes Lawler with a nice combination of punches, kicks and a knee. Hendricks lands a few hard inside leg kicks. Lawler nails Hendricks with a power hook the briefly backs Hendricks up. Lawler stuffs a takedown defense easily but eats a punch on the break. Lawler moves in but eats a hook in the process. Lawler lands a hard punch but Hendricks smiles and answers back with a series of shots including a nice knee to the head. 10-9 Hendricks.
Round 3. Hendricks goes back to work with leg kicks. he grabs a clinch and lands some knees to the body. Hendricks keeps throwing volume punches. Lawler covers up and avoids damage but Hendricks is preventing him from getting off because of Hendricks' activity. Lawler stuns Hendricks with a left punch to the head and backs him against the cage with power punches. Hendricks is in big danger. He tries to answer back but keeps eating big punches. Hendricks is determined to fight out of danger. He's playing a very dangerous game. Hendricks finally shoots for a takedown but can't get it. Lawler is now the aggressor. Hendricks does land a nice knee. Lawler is more active with his jab, landing consistently on the chin of Hendricks. That was close to a 10-8 round. Hendricks didn't go down but Lawler came awfully close to finishing. He hurt Hendricks badly. 10-9 Lawler.
Round 4. Lawler is now the more active fighter. He lands a series of jabs and a knee to the head. He backs Hendricks against the cage but Hendricks fires back with a few punches of his own and a leg kick. Lawler is working the jab. Hendricks answers back with a body punch. Hendricks goes for a takedown but Lawler blocks it without any difficulty. Hendricks is bleeding badly. The blood is all around the right eye of Hendricks and is impairing his vision. Hendricks is becoming more active with his punches, however. Lawler grabs the Thai plum and lands a knee. Hendricks breaks and goes back to his leg kick. Lawler lands a big uppercut but Hendricks answers back with a combination of his own including an uppercut answer. Lawler becomes more active again with the jab, firing it out frequently to prevent Hendricks from becoming more active like he was in the first two rounds. Hendricks gets a takedown and lands some punches at the end. 10-9 Lawler. All tied up going into the fifth.
Round 5. Lawler goes back to the jab early. Hendricks moves in and gets caught with a counter. Lawler keeps peppering him with the jab. Hendricks grabs a leg and pushes Lawler against the cage. Hendricks almost gets Lawler down but Lawler is able to stop him. Hendricks continues to keep working as this could be the difference in the fight. Hendricks works and works but can't get it and the referee breaks them. Upon the break, Hendricks lands a nice combination with a leg kick at the end. Hendricks looks for a takedown but Lawler stuffs it easily. Hendricks lands a few hard punches that send Lawler back. He appears to stun Lawler with the punches. He follows with a big uppercut and some big straight punches. Lawler is getting tagged repeatedly. Hendricks backs Lawler against the cage and gets a takedown. He lands a few punches and that is it. 10-9 Hendricks, 48-47 Hendricks.
Winner: Johny Hendricks, unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 48-47).
That was a heck of an effort by Johny Hendricks. Lawler was pouring it on in the third and the fourth and it looked like it was strongly going Lawler's way. Hendricks pulled it out in the second half of the final round, beating a dangerous striker at his own game.
Carlos Condit vs. Tyron Woodley
Condit is one of the welterweight division's most highly regarded fighters. He has excellent striking and a very good jiu jitsu game as well. He's a closer. Following consecutive losses to Georges St. Pierre and Johny Hendricks, he rebounded with a victory over Martin Kampmann. Now, he looks to make another run at the gold. Woodley comes from a wrestling background and he has natural knockout power. His standup has improved but it still isn't as technical as Condit. A win here would put Woodley in the mix for a title shot. However, more than Condit he needs to win in a way that makes people take notice of him.
Round 1.They feel each other out early. Woodley connects with a hard punch right to the jaw. He lands another moments later. Condit has a great chin and takes both. Woodley lands another few hard punches from close range. Woodley nails Condit with another big punch from the clinch. Woodley punishes the body and they separate. Condit moves in and connects with a nice straight punch. Condit moves in with punches by the cage and is taken down. Condit goes for a triangle choke from the bottom but Woodley throws him off. Woodley takes Condit back down. He lets Condit up. Woodley lands a spinning back elbow and the round ends. 10-9 Woodley.
Round 2. Condit comes out with kicks. He lands one high on the slowing Woodley. Woodley answers with a hard looping punch. Woodley takes Condit down and Condit winces in pain from the fall. Woodley lands some punches and they are quickly stood up. Woodley lands a leg kick. Condit goes down in pain clutching his knee and the fight is stopped. Really sad to see the fight end like that.
Winner: Tyron Woodley, TKO, round 2.
Diego Sanchez vs. Myles Jury
Sanchez is an action fighter who has been fighting in high profile bouts for a great many years since winning the first season of the Ultimate Fighter. He is coming off a fight with Gilbert Melendez that was widely acclaimed but he has eaten a lot of shots in recent fights. Jury is an undefeated fighter on the rise with a wrestling background.
Round 1. Sanchez throws a spinning kick and eats a straight punch. Sanchez moves in and clinches. He can't get a takedown and backs off. Sanchez lands a nice punch. Sanchez moves in swinging wild punches but doesn't land. Jury connects with a right punch and a head kick. He backs off when Sanchez moves in. Jury takes Sanchez down with 30 seconds left. Sanchez grabs the heel but can't get anything. Jury lands a few punches as the round ends. 10-9 Jury.
Round 2. Jury catches Sanchez with an elbow early. There is a cut near the eye of Sanchez. It's just under. Sanchez moves in with punches and catches Jury with one. Sanchez is bleeding badly. Sanchez charges in but misses with his shots and Jury connects with a couple jabs. Jury scores a takedown with 90 seconds left in the round. Sanchez grabs a guillotine choke from the bottom and for a little while appears to have it pretty tight. But Jury gets himself out and drops a few punches. Sanchez stands up. 10-9 Jury.