The crowd chanted evenly in unison, “KNEEE, KNEEE, KNEEEE,” as Robbie Lawler stumbled backwards with his hands firmly clasped around Johny Hendricks’s neck as he relentlessly pulled the number one contender in the welterweight division backwards with the crowd chanting for what they felt was necessary in knees to the face, and then Hendricks head popped up as he disengaged from the clinch, and a moment of surreal awareness of Lawler’s chances to become the welterweight champ became self-evident since Hendricks is anything but ok nearing the end of the fourth round. It’s been a close fight and his face is covered in blood as he breaks the clinch and moves forward to reengage with Lawler with only a minute or so left before the fifth begins and the possibility for an upset becomes even closer to reality.
Nearing the end of the fourth round in a battle that saw both men rock the other, Hendricks shoots for a takedown and holds Lawler down as the round ends. The fifth kicks off and both men don’t appear any shyer than before to stand and trade blows all over the Octagon.
The fight was a back and forth heavy handed ordeal as both men teed off on the other while Lawler seemed excited to be there as he smiled and bounced around while dealing his patented heavy hands. Hendricks on the other hand had the look of a man that knew what had to happen. Of course where Lawler was happy to be in the cage at all, it’s doubtful Hendricks had stopped thinking about the first time the belt was stolen from him against GSP at UFC 167.
Nearing the end of the round, Lawler wasn’t smiling anymore like he had been throughout the entire twenty plus minutes and Hendricks who hadn’t been smiling at all finally secures only his second takedown of the night, but like the first one, this one’s at the end of another crucial round as time runs out and both men get up and walk back to their corners.
As Hendricks’s hand is raised moments later and he crumples to the ground in what must have felt like a well-deserved moment, it’s difficult to feel like it should’ve ended any other way. Remember he was completely robbed by the judges in a one sided beat down of the former champ in GSP. But then again, he took quite a beating himself in this one by Lawler and clearly had been hurt more times than his opponent.
But with the decision in the books, the welterweight division has never felt so energized in its rebirth of late. With a new champion crowned tonight, it felt more than fitting to witness two more contenders ascend the ranks in upsets that rivaled the main event itself.
Tyron (not Tyrone) Woodley ranked just outside the UFC’s top ten list, blasted through the number one contender in the division in Carlos Condit. No one saw this coming, at least not in the way it went down. Woodley rocked Condit twice early in the fight but was unable to close out the former interim welterweight champ as Condit bounced back and began finding his rhythm with rangy strikes and kicks of his own.
The first round ended and while Woodley appeared to have the upper hand, Condit wasn’t out of this one yet. But then in the second as Condit absorbed a leg kick to the knee, he buckled in pain, and the fight was stopped as a replay showed the brutal dislocation he had endured.
Hector Lombard looked capable of beating anyone among the welterweight who went at it tonight since his beating of Jake Shields was almost too difficult to watch at times. He relentlessly battered Shields while denying take downs and dealing out beautiful sweeps and trips of his own in the process towards a fairly one sided unanimous decision. It’s hard to imagine he will be denied by anyone at 170 anytime soon since he absolutely folded Nate Marquardt neatly in his welterweight debut back last October at UFC 166 in the first round.
Myles Jury picked apart Diego Sanchez as well towards a unaminous decision of his own. It seemed likely that either Jury would win a technical match or that Sanchez would overwhelm him with his unique brand of chaotic mauling madness. While it would be nice to see Sanchez jump back in to the win column, new blood at the highest echelons of the divisions is always positive. Jury now joins TJ Grant, Khabib Nurmagomedov, and Rafael Dos Anjos at 5-0 in the UFC lightweight division. That’s a sick set of young hungry contenders’ folks.
The fight to kick off the epic main card ended in one round as undefeated light-heavyweight standout Ovince St. Preux was able to drag Nikita Krylov to the ground and pass all attempts to pull guard until finally choking the Russian unconscious around the one minute mark. Another win of note was Kelvin Gastelum who picked up his biggest win yet in a split decision victory over Rick Story, since upsetting Uriah Hall to become the TUF 17 winner back in April of last year.
~ Main card ~
Johny Hendricks beats Robbie Lawler by unanimous decision
Tyron Woodley beats Carlos Condit by second-round TKO
Myles Jury def. Diego Sanchez via unanimous decision
Hector Lombard def. Jake Shields via unanimous decision
Ovince St. Preux def. Nikita Krylov via submission
~ Undercard ~
Kelvin Gastelum beats Rick Story by split decision
Jessica Andrade beats Raquel Pennington by split decision
Dennis Bermudez beats Jimy Hettes via third-round TKO
Alex Garcia beats Sean Spencer via split decision
Frank Trevino beats Renee Forte via unanimous decision
Justin Scoggins beats Will Campuzano via unanimous decision
Sean Strickland beats Bubba McDaniel via submission
Robert Whiteford beats Daniel Pineda via unanimous decision