Johny Hendricks made the most of his second chance to win UFC gold as he came through with a big finish in the fifth and final round to edge Robbie Lawler in a thrilling welterweight title fight at UFC 171 in Dallas.
Hendricks, who many thought had done enough to wrest the title away from long-time champion Georges St. Pierre at UFC 167, showcased a wide variety of powerful punching combinations and leg kicks in earning the unanimous decision by scores of 48-47 on all three of the judges’ scorecards.
It was the official changing of the guard in the welterweight division with GSP out of the title picture and not surprisingly, Hendricks and Lawler put on a tremendous show. The two heavy hitters tested each other’s chins throughout the course of the 25-minute contest and there were times where both men were in serious trouble.
The fight saw Hendricks get the better of his opponent in the first two rounds, but “Ruthless” turned the tide in the third round when he had “Bigg Rigg” badly wobbled and bloodied after landing several powerful left hands. Lawler seemed to enjoy an advantage in the fourth round as well and in most people’s eyes, the title was up for grabs entering the final round.
Unlike his fight against St. Pierre where Hendricks seemed to take his foot off the gas in the fifth round, there was no repeat against Lawler. Hendricks landed a number of powerful left hands, knees and low kicks during the final round and had a tiring Lawler in trouble.
Hendricks cemented his dominance by mixing in a takedown in the final minute and keeping Lawler on the canvas as the clock wound down. Both men turned in outstanding performances, combining for a whopping 308 significant strikes between them.
Hendricks will undoubtedly enjoy some time off after his hard-fought victory and await word on who his first title defense will come against. As for Lawler, his stock isn’t diminished at all despite the setback, and he proved that he will be a handful for anyone in the division.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports