The main event of UFC 171 between Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler stole the show. On an undercard was filled with entertaining fights and certain fighters worthy of being named a top 3 star of the event, the performance by both welterweights in the main event took precedent, providing the fans with a 5-round razor thin title fight that saw neither fighter back down for the full 25 minutes.
3rd Star – Hector Lombard
Many felt Hector Lombard’s performance wasn’t impressive enough or worthy of a title shot, but I completely disagree with those thoughts. Hector Lombard shutdown one of the most competitive and toughest welterweights in the world, in Jake Shields. Stylistically Lombard made this as difficult a fight as it could be for Jake, and had maybe the best performance anyone has had against Jake Shields in his career. Lombard was able to completely shutdown Jake Shields’ wrestling, defending all 7 of his takedown attempts. While landing takedowns of his own, completely rag dolling Shields around the cage using his judo throws, landing all 5 of his takedown attempts. The only offense the former Strikeforce middleweight champion mounted was late in the 3rd, was on a desperation guillotine choke attempt that Lombard later claimed wasn’t tight at all. Lombard having defeated the #6 ranked welterweight in the UFC–handing Jake Shields just his 3rd loss in 9 years–and now 2-0 in his welterweight career, has his eyes set on Johny Hendricks’ welterweight title. Starring at the belt during the post-fight press conference and telling the champion, “I would like to get that please”.
2nd Star – Robbie Lawler
If someone had told me just 1 year ago, that Robbie Lawler would be fighting for and be minutes away from capturing the UFC welterweight title, I would have thought they were living in a fantasy world. But that is exactly what happened, Robbie Lawler took the fight to Johny Hendricks, wasn’t afraid to stand in the pocket and trade, took Johny’s best shots and answered. With the fight even at 2 rounds a piece, a better 5th round by Hendricks was the big difference between Robbie Lawler possibly walking away as the champion, and walking away empty handed. After losing the first two rounds, Lawler was able to comeback to win the next two, hurting Hendricks with his powerful striking in the 3rd and 4th. And more impressively, defending 8 of Hendricks’ 10 takedown attempts. Coming off an inconsistent Strikeforce run, Lawler has really began to put things together in his 2nd stint with the UFC. With this loss, his stock certainly has not dropped, and I could envision a scenario in which ‘Ruthless’ will be fighting for a title again very soon.
1st Star – Johny Hendricks
Johny Hendricks went a full 5-rounds back in November, suffering a devastating split decision loss to GSP at UFC 167, he got a shot a redemption in the main event of UFC 171 and made the most of his 2nd chance. Hendricks showcased much improved striking, by mixing up his punches and kicks–throwing accurate combinations in the pocket. Hendricks switched things up from his usual approach of looking to knockout his opponent with the massive left hand of his, instead he took a more technical approach and pieced together combinations, while throwing with less power, but a much higher offensive output. This was apparent in the first two rounds, while many thought coming into the fight that Robbie Lawler would have the advantage in the striking department, but this was not so. Hendricks won the first two rounds using his combinations, and was forced to face some adversity when he got stunned in the 3rd and 4th rounds by Robbie Lawler. Digging deep, Hendricks mustered up the fight to win the fifth and deciding round to capture his first UFC welterweight championship.