Article

Second Time's The Charm for Hendricks

Read on for UFC 171 main event results...

DALLAS, March 15 – The disappointment of Johny Hendricks’ November loss to Georges St-Pierre vanished in the space of two words Saturday night at the American Airlines Center:

“AND NEW…”

And when Bruce Buffer said those words, declaring Hendricks the new UFC welterweight champion via three scores of 48-47 after a five round classic with Robbie Lawler, the 170-pound division had its new king, someone who many believed should have had that crown last year after his controversial split decision defeat to the longtime champion from Canada, who vacated his belt to take a hiatus from the sport last December.

But if you ask Hendricks, he will undoubtedly say that finally getting the belt was worth the wait, even if he had to walk through fire to get it.

The crowd was into the fight from the time of the walk-ins, with Hendricks getting a huge reaction from the fans in his adopted hometown, and they would only get louder cheering for both men over the next 25 minutes. > Watch: Johny Hendricks' Post-Fight Interview

Once the fight began, there was a clear tension that was broken by a wild scramble by the fence as Lawler looked to end things early. Hendricks went on to lock Lawler up against the fence briefly, but after coming up empty, he let his opponent free and looked for a takedown that was defended well by Lawler. The ensuing stand-up action took place with the two inches away from each other, Hendricks getting in a couple nice shots as Lawler jabbed while looking to set up his uppercut. With 40 seconds remaining, Hendricks aggressively sought the takedown, but again, Lawler defended it effectively.

Lawler was busier with his strikes as the second round commenced, and his movement was better as well. But after eating a few shots, Hendricks came back hard at his foe, throwing bombs with both hands. Lawler smiled at the exchanges, but he was starting to get the worst of them, as Hendricks mixed punches upstairs with kicks to the legs. Lawler took the shots well and he continued to toss off Hendricks’ takedown attempts, but he needed to up his output like he did in the beginning of the round, something he tried to do in the closing minute, only to have Hendricks rally with hard flurries in return.

Hendricks kept the pace high in the third, at one point appearing to pull away in the second minute. But Lawler fired right back, and soon his left hand started landing, rocking Hendricks on several occasions. Now Lawler was in control as Hendricks tried to clear his head, and the tide had turned in favor of the Iowa veteran. Hendricks wasn’t done yet though, and in the final 90 seconds he began tagging Lawler again, with the crowd loving every second of the action. As the round ended, Lawler looked out into the arena, smiled and beckoned for more cheers, which he most certainly got.

In round four, Lawler’s left continued to pay dividends and when he threw a knee into the equations, the bloodied Hendricks seemed to be one clean shot away from defeat. But as things got darker, Hendricks roared back with a vengeance, keeping Lawler from landing the finisher. The blood continued to flow from Hendricks’ face, yet the “Bigg Rigg” wouldn’t stop throwing. The problem for him was that neither did Lawler, and the punches of “Ruthless” were clearly doing more damage. With 15 seconds remaining in the round, Hendricks finally got his takedown, and then it was up to his corner to stop the bleeding and get him ready for the final round.

With the fans in attendance on their feet, the two welterweights began the final five minutes, and after more stand-up exchanges, Hendricks went all-in on a takedown attempt. Lawler held him off, but Hendricks stayed locked up with his opponent, trying to put him on the mat. Lawler wouldn’t go, and referee Dan Miragliotta separated the two. Now Lawler went on the offensive, but after jarring Hendricks, the Texan returned the favor, and suddenly, Lawler was in big trouble with under 90 seconds left. Hendricks was then able to get his takedown with no trouble, and the mat was where he kept Lawler until the final seconds ticked off the clock, sealing the win and beginning the next era of the UFC’s welterweight division.

With the win, Hendricks ups his record to 16-2; Lawler falls to 22-10 with 1 NC.

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