411's MMA Roundtable Preview - UFC 171: Hendricks vs. Lawler
Posted by Dan Plunkett on 03.14.2014
Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler battle for the vacant welterweight title at UFC 171! Plus Carlos Condit takes on Tyron Woodley and more! Check out the full roundtable preview for all the details and join 411 for LIVE coverage of the event Saturday night!
For the first time in 6 years, a new top dog in the welterweight division will be crowned when Johny Hendricks battles Robbie Lawler for the vacant welterweight title in the main event of UFC 171! In the co-main event, top contender Carlos Condit faces the dangerous Tyron Woodley. At lightweight, Diego Sanchez returns against Myles Jury. Plus, Jake Shields fights Hector Lombard, Ovince St. Preux vs. Nikita Krylov, and more!
From MMA's 3R's, Jeffrey Harris!
He's your host of MMA's Fact or Fiction, Wyatt Beougher!
From The Round Horn, Koeddy Laemmle!
From The MMA Top Ten, Alex Rella!
From Five Quick Rounds, Evan Zivin!
From What's Next, Robert Practor!
From the Locked in the Guillotine MMA News Report, Robert Winfree!
From Forgotten Fights, Paul Lapointe!
THE PRELIMINARY CARD:
First four prelims to air UFC Fight Pass, rest on Fox Sports 1.
Featherweight Bout: Daniel Pineda vs. Robert Whiteford
Jeffrey Harris: Daniel Pineda, Decision Wyatt Beougher: Whiteford, TKO, Round 2 Koeddy Laemmle: Robert Whiteford, TKO, RD 2 Alex Rella: Pineda, Decision Evan Zivin: Robert Whiteford, TKO, Round 3 Robert Practor: Daniel Pineda, Submission, Round 2 Robert Winfree: Robert Whiteford, Decision Paul Lapointe: Pineda, Submission, RD2 The staff picks a draw, 4-4.
Middleweight Bout: Robert McDaniel vs. Sean Strickland
Jeffrey Harris: Robert McDaniel, Decision Wyatt Beougher: Strickland, KO, Round 3 Koeddy Laemmle: Robert McDaniel, Decision Alex Rella: Strickland, Decision Evan Zivin: Robert McDaniel, Submission, Round 2 Robert Practor: Sean Strickland, TKO, Round 3 Robert Winfree: Robert McDaniel, TKO Round 2 Paul Lapointe: Strickland, KO, RD3 The staff picks a draw, 4-4.
Flyweight Bout: Will Campuzano vs. Justin Scoggins
Jeffrey Harris: Will Campuzano, TKO, Round 2 Wyatt Beougher: Scoggins, TKO, Round 1 Koeddy Laemmle: Justin Scoggins, KO, RD 1 Alex Rella: Campuzano, Decision Evan Zivin: Justin Scoggins, TKO, Round 2 Robert Practor: Justin Scoggins, Decision Robert Winfree: Will Campuzano, Decision Paul Lapointe: Campy, submission, RD2 The staff picks a draw, 4-4.
Lightweight Bout: Renne Forte vs. Frank Trevino
Wyatt Beougher: Trevino, Decision Koeddy Laemmle: Francisco Trevino, Decision Alex Rella: Forte, Decision Evan Zivin: Frank Trevino, Decision Robert Practor: Renee Forte, Decision Robert Winfree: Renne Forte, Decision Paul Lapointe: Trevino, Decision, RD3 The staff picks Frank Trevino, 4-3.
Welterweight Bout: Sean Spencer vs. Alex Garcia
Jeffrey Harris: Sean Spencer, Decision Wyatt Beougher: Garcia, Submission, Round 2 Koeddy Laemmle: Sean Spencer, TKO, RD 2 Alex Rella: Spencer, Decision Evan Zivin: Alex Garcia, Submission, Round 1 Robert Practor: Alex Garcia, TKO, Round 2 Robert Winfree: Sean Spencer, Decision Paul Lapointe: Garcia, TKO, RD3 The staff picks a draw, 4-4.
Featherweight Bout: Dennis Bermudez vs. Jimy Hettes
Jeffrey Harris: Dennis Bermudez, Decision Wyatt Beougher: Hettes, Submission, Round 2 Koeddy Laemmle: Jimy Hettes, Submission, RD 3 Alex Rella: Bermudez, Decision Evan Zivin: Dennis Bermudez, Decision Robert Practor: Dennis Bermudez, Decision Robert Winfree: Jimy Hettes, Decision Paul Lapointe: Bermudez, Split Decision, RD3 The staff picks Dennis Bermudez, 5-3.
Women's Bantamweight Bout: Raquel Pennington vs. Jessica Andrade
Jeffrey Harris: Jessica Andrade, TKO, Round 2 Wyatt Beougher: Andrade, Decision Koeddy Laemmle: Raquel Pennington, Decision Alex Rella: Pennington, Decision Evan Zivin: Jessica Andrade, Submission, Round 2 Robert Practor: Jessica Andrade, Decision Robert Winfree: Jessica Andrade, Decision Paul Lapointe: Andrade, TKO, RD2 The staff picks Jessica Andrade, 6-2.
Welterweight Bout: Kelvin Gastelum vs. Rick Story
Jeffrey Harris: Kelvin Gastelum, Submission, Round 2 Wyatt Beougher: Gastelum, Decision Koeddy Laemmle: Rick Story, Decision Alex Rella: Gastelum, Submission, Round 1 Evan Zivin: Kelvin Gastelum, Decision Robert Practor: Kelvin Gastelum, Decision Robert Winfree: Rick Story, Decision Paul Lapointe: Kelvin, Decision, RD3 The staff picks Kelvin Gastelum, 6-2.
THE MAIN CARD:
Light Heavyweight Bout: Ovince St. Preux vs. Nikita Krylov
Jeffrey Harris: I see this is a winnable fight for Ovince St. Preux. Krylov did look look considerably better in his second UFC fight at UFC on Fox 10, knocking out Walt Harris. However, OSP is a considerably more experienced and tougher opponent. He sets a much better pace and has more knockout power. Krylov will be making his move down to light heavyweight. OSP will move forward with his superior striking and eventually put Krylov away for the win.
Winner: Ovince St. Preux, TKO, Round 2
Wyatt Beougher: First off, since I did it for last week's card, let's take a second and compare this week's prelims to those from the TUF: China finale from two weeks ago. Then: every fighter on the prelims coming off of at least one loss. Now: Multiple undefeated or one-loss fighters making their promotional debut, and no one with an outright bad record featured. Pretty significant step up, even if I think Gastelum/Story should've been on the main card instead of this fight. Nikita Krylov has an awesome nickname ("Al Capone") and in nineteen total fights has never gone to a decision. He's also replacing Thiago Silva on a little over a month's notice after Silva's recent newsmaking legal troubles. OSP, on the other hand, has a ripoff nickname and has amassed a pretty solid record in largely unspectacular fashion. He's finished a number of his fights, but none of them really stand out to me, save for the eye poke technical decision win he got over Gian Villante in his UFC debut. Krylov's debut was also marred, but by his own poor conditioning that saw him lose to Soa Palelei in a pretty awful fight. This will be his first fight at light heavyweight, and I'm anxious to see if the weight cut will benefit him. This is really a winnable fight for either guy, so I'm picking Krylov based on the much cooler nickname.
Winner: Krylov, TKO, Round 1
Koeddy Laemmle: Ovince St. Preux is an up and coming Light Heavyweight who was originally scheduled to get a real challenge in former staple of the division Thiago Silva. Now with Silva moving onto the next, less fortunate stage of his life, OSP will be fighting Ukranian fighter Nikita Krylov. This is Krylov's first fight at 205 and while he holds some unique karate skills, I expect this fight to just be a stepping stone for OSP who needs a showcase performance to elevate him to the next level. A finish here would be essential but I don't think Krylov is going to allow this to be a walk in the park for St. Preux
Winner: Ovince St. Preux, Decision
Alex Rella: I'm not exactly sure why, but I'm excited for this fight. Krylov is making his light heavyweight debut and going for his second UFC win. OSP is looking to continue his winning streak as he's slowly climbing the light heavyweight rankings. OSP is a very well rounded fighter and is 11-1 in his last twelve fights. Of course I'm a little biased going with the former Strikeforce guy, but I also can't forget Krylov's embarrassing UFC debut against Soa Palelei.
Winner: St. Preux, Decision
Evan Zivin: When you look at OSP's record over the last 4 years, it's crazy to think that he started out with a pathetic 3-4. He has since gone 11-1 in his career, with the only loss being a decision against Gegard Mousasi, and has won first two UFC fights. Krylov is 1-1 so far in the UFC. He had a tough TKO loss to Soa Palelei but followed it up with a head kick knockout of Walt Harris, made more impressive by the fact that he took the fight on short notice and agreed to fight at heavyweight while in the process of moving down to light heavyweight. He's stepping up for another short notice fight, replacing Thiago Silva for obvious reasons, and while I love picking an underdog, I think OSP will win this. Krylov has some momentum heading into this fight but OSP will be better prepared and has the wrestling to get inside of Krylov and control him for three rounds (or knock him out).
Winner: Ovince St. Preux, Decision
Robert Practor: Nikita Krylov earned a TKO victory in his last fight, rebounding from his poor performance against Soa Palelei before that, but I don't give him much of a chance here in his Light Heavyweight debut. His Al Capone entrance is cool and all but I see St. Preux knocking him out cold in the first round.
Winner: Ovince St. Preux, KO, Round 1
Robert Winfree: So, our hot opener is the heaviest fight on the card? Eh, it could still work. OSP has a solid enough history, but he's also fought a lot of cab drivers. I mean, the biggest name he's fought is Gegard Mousasi and he lost. No shame, Mousasi is legitimately world class, but there isn't an impressive name in the win column for OSP. Krylov used to fight at heavyweight, he lost a fight to Soa Palelei where he gassed out first. Of course he KO'd Walt Harris in short order in his last fight so we're supposed to pretend his other fight didn't happen. I've never been terribly impressed with OSP, he's never been able to make a lasting impression with me. Krylov is similar in that regard, but Krylov hasn't had the same opportunities to showcase his skills that OSP has. I'm going with Krylov here.
Winner: Nikita Krylov, Decision
Paul Lapointe: Ok folks this card is a doozy. I say this because for the first time this year the UFC has put together a card that matchup wise is very competetive and hard to judge from the outset. I mean any of the main card bouts could go either way depending on each fighters gameplan and execution of said gameplan. As for predictions the tally for this roundtable is going to be a funky one. Bravo- UFC for a job well done. On point though the opening contest has the potential to be hogwash to sit through or a one and done, wham bam thank you ma'am KO. The brass is hoping for the latter as another Krylov/Soa 3 round "WAR" would just be a terrible way to start the show. Do yourself a favour, never watch that match, EVER. As for this one, OSP keeps distance and Babe Ruth's Al Capones head off his shoulders like it was served up on a TEE.
Winner: OSP, TKO, RD2
The staff picks Ovince St. Preux, 6-2.
Welterweight Bout: Jake Shields vs. Hector Lombard
Jeffrey Harris: Well, we got a Jake Shields fight here. I just don't see Lombard as the guy with the type of style that will be able to aggressively move forward and put Jake Shields away. Shields has the type of style that Lombard simply hasn't been able to overcome since he signed with the UFC. Shields is a strong grappler, but he poses absolutely no threat on the ground with submissions. The last time he finished a fight was against Robbie Lawler in Strikeforce about five years ago. Shields is optimistic he can finish this fight and get a title shot, which is a little overly optimistic on his part. But to finish a fighter means he will actually have to go for the finish, something he seldom if ever tries to do. Shields is too old at this point to reinvent his striking game which has always been his most deficient area. Regardless, Shields will likely do what he usually does and grind out a dull, borderline-unwatchable decision.
Winner: Jake Shields, Decision
Wyatt Beougher: If ever I wished for Rogan and/or Goldberg to shout "(Insert Fighter Name Here) is back!", it's this fight, referring to Hector Lombard. In a division that featured a pair of champions who regularly smotherhumped their opponents en route to decision wins, Shields has regularly been the most boring fighter in said division. Based on Lombard's UFC history, he's due for a loss here to continue alternating wins and losses, but I'm sincerely hoping the drop to welterweight has reinvigorated him as much as his outing against Nate Marquardt would have us believe. Unfortunately, prior to that bout, Lombard struggled with Yushin Okami, which doesn't give me a lot of hope in this one. Fortunately, even round starts on the feet and Shields is notoriously bad there, so I'll bet on Lombard landing a lucky punch after being held down for two rounds.
Winner: Hector Lombard, KO, Round 3
Koeddy Laemmle: Both guys need wins to launch themselves back into the Welterweight title picture and with a new champion being crowned the division is wide open for the first time since before the Matt Hughes era! Jake Shields is one of least favorite fighters to have to watch but Lombard is going to have a hard time shaking off his take down attempts. Lombard seems to have a hard time against fighters with wrestling backgrounds, his only two losses in UFC come at the hands of Yushin Okami and Tim Boetsch.. Lombard needs to keep this fight standing if he hopes to have an sort of success against the superior wrestler. If he doesn't then Shields will earn a Jake Shields-like victory.
Winner: Jake Shields, Decision
Alex Rella: Hector Lombard could come out in the first round and knockout Jake Shields like he did to Nate Marquardt and Rousimar Palhares. He's just been too inconsistent for me to pick though. Shields has been nothing but consistent over the last ten years. Shields is a former UFC number one contender, Strikeforce and Elite XC champion, and has only lost twice since 2005. One was to GSP and the other was to Jake Ellenberger when he really shouldn't have been fighting. I expect Jake Shields to win here the way he usually does.
Winner: Shields, Decision
Evan Zivin: This is one of those fights that could be either long and boring or quick and violent depending on who is able to execute their gameplan more effectively. In one corner, you have Shields who, while having worked a lot on his striking game, is still primarily a grappler. In the other corner is Lombard, a Cuban boxer with grappling experience but is still primarily a striker. The safe bet in this fight is Shields since Lombard has problems with strong grapplers who can tie him up (ex. Yushin Okami) and Shields is good at winning close, drawn-out battles that he may not have actually won (ex. his last two fights). The question is whether Lombard can stop Shields from executing his game. I don't think he can. Shields will likely set the pace and keep Lombard from doing anything significant en route to another disappointing decision in favor of the Skrap Packer.
Winner: Jake Shields, Decision
Robert Practor: Hector Lombard has amazing power, possibly the biggest in the Welterweight division along with Johny Hendrick, and has the chance to knock Jake Shields into oblivion in this fight but I don't see it happening. While I have been vocal in criticizing the sleep-inducing style that Shields usually employs in his fights, the fact remains that he is a top 5 Welterweight and is my pick to win this fight. Lombard hopes to lure Shields into a striking battle but Shields is smarter than that and is likely to stifle him for the entirety of the fight en route to another decision victory. Shields has stated that he feels he deserves another title shot with a victory here but I honestly don't think the UFC wants him anywhere near a title fight due to his style. If Shields wins here and goes on to get another victory over someone the caliber of Rory MacDonald or Matt Brown, it may force the UFC's hand and leave them no choice but to put him in there.
Winner: Jake Shields, Decision
Robert Winfree: So, Jake Shields is fighting. Yeah, that's gonna help with the old insomnia. My dislike for Shields and his fights is well documented, and Hector Lombard is really hit or miss with his performances so this one could just bore the world to tears. Fortunately I don't think it will, Shields wont be able to just clinch with Lombard who has a very strong Judo background. There's a chance Shields is able to get his grind on, but I'm going to go with what I want to happen as opposed to the likely outcome, I think Lombard takes his head off.
Winner: Hector Lombard, KO Round 1
Paul Lapointe: I hope for all that is holy that Jake Shields is unable to use his "American Jiu Jitsu" cagehump paint drying technique to effectiveness in this one. Jake will try this as he has already said he would and as he always does but Hector has hella power at 170 and a judo background so the implementation of said gameplan could prove rather difficult here. This guy (points to self) is hoping thats the case and Hector is finally able to live up to his paycheck and do what Jake Ellenberger did to Shields's noggin. That is to scramble it so bad and fast that Jake never has time to bore us for 15 minutes.
Winner: Hector, TKO, RD3
The staff picks Jake Shields, 5-3.
Lightweight Bout: Diego Sanchez vs. Myles Jury
Jeffrey Harris: Myles Jury didn't look all that impressive on his stint on The Ultimate Fighter. And he had a rough period where he was having a lot of injury issues. But since he came into the UFC, he's been surprisingly dominant. In under two years, he's won four fights. A win here would give him five wins in the UFC in less than 24 months. Diego Sanchez is tough and resilient, but he's also gone through a lot of wars and is old in the sport. It's hard to foresee he can go through a lot more fights like the bout against Gilbert Melendez. The last time Sanchez finished a fight was against Luigi Fioravanti in June of 2008. He's picked up a couple impressive and dominant wins, but he's not been able to stop any of his opponents. I don't see that happening here either. Sanchez might take a round, but Jury will continue coming forward and take Sanchez down and win a decision.
Winner: Myles Jury, Decision
Wyatt Beougher: Poor Diego Sanchez - he just can't seem to win. He wins the first Ultimate Fighter, but a loss to castmate Josh Koscheck derailed his momentum in the welterweight division. He dropped to lightweight, earned a title shot, and got thoroughly handled by BJ Penn, prompting a return to welterweight, where a debuting John Hathaway picked up a decision win. He went on to put together a two-fight win streak, but a loss to Jake Ellenberger killed any momentum he had, so he dropped back to lightweight, where he promptly missed weight (though he did defeat Takanori Gomi), and then he made weight for his fight against Gilbert Melendez, which won Fight of the Night honors and even won some outlets' Fight of the Year honors, but Sanchez himself lost the fight. Probably most hurtful, though, is how successful Daniel Bryan has made the "Yes" chants in the WWE, which were popularized by Diego during a Countdown special prior to the Penn fight. On the other side of the cage, you've got Myles Jury, who is undefeated and has won all four of his UFC fights against competitors from TUF. Do I think that trend continues here? YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! Jury's a solid grappler and possesses decent stand-up, but I think his real advantage is his youth. He's eight years Diego's junior, and he's taken far, far less damage in less than half as many fights as Sanchez. I'm not sure Jury will ever be a contender in the lightweight division, but I do think he's good enough to beat Diego.
Winner: Myles Jury, Decision
Koeddy Laemmle: Myles Jury has quietly racked up quite the impressive undefeated record since his stay at the Ultimate Fighter house but he takes a big step up in competition when he faces the only real title big name fighter he's ever fought. (Michael Johnson could definitely reach that point some day but for now he remains Jury's toughest opponent) Diego Sanchez remains one of the most popular and exciting fighters in the organization and could easily put himself back into the picture with a win here following a very impressive performance in his last "Fight of the Year" candidate against Gilbert Melendez. I think is beginning one last career resurgence, at a time in which the rest of his fellow Ultimate Fighter 1 cast mates have either retired or are fount in smaller organizations. Diego's warrior spirit is going to be crucial in this fight but he needs to fight smart and keep this fight from going to the ground.
Winner: Diego Sanchez, KO, RD 2
Alex Rella: This is the only fight I'm really torn on who to pick. Myles Jury is still undefeated and had some moments where he's looked really good, but then he's some moments where he's just looked kinda eh. Sanchez is one of the most exciting fighters of all time, but it seems like the years of fighting are catching up with him. I'm going with the much younger fighter here.
Winner: Jury, Decision
Evan Zivin: This is the makings of a potential breakout fight. Jury has been very dominant in his MMA career, winning all 13 of his fights, 5 by knockout and 6 by submission. This includes his first 4 UFC appearances, where he defeated Michael Johnson by decision, knocked out Ramsey Nijem, and defeated Mike Ricci by decision. Man, he really doesn't like Ultimate Fighter runners-up. I guess he's still bitter from his time on the show. The man is clearly ready for ranked competition and Diego Sanchez is a good start. Sanchez will be competing in his 20th UFC fight on Saturday, coming off his Fight of the Year contender against Gilbert Melendez. Diego is great in a scrap but tends to falter in fights against wrestlers who are able to control him and dictate his pace. Jury definitely has the ability to do that. It's hard to count Diego out of any fight he takes part in but I think Jury will win this fight. Whether Jury will be able to move any farther up the rankings will remain to be seen but this will be the fight where the general MMA audience will take notice and realize "hey, this kid's pretty good." Go show 'em, Fury.
Winner: Myles Jury, Decision
Robert Practor: This fight is really a toss-up for me. It would be great to see Sanchez show he still has some gas left in the tank and pull out a ‘W' but Myles Jury may have the tools to outwork him for three rounds and continue his climb up the ladder. Diego is going to put relentless pressure on the undefeated, young prospect and has a good chance to find success if Jury decides to play that game but if my money were on the line I would have to put it on Jury.
Winner: Myles Jury, Decision
Robert Winfree: I don't really care about this fight. Diego Sanchez usually has fun fights, but they've been meaningless since Sanchez lost to BJ Penn. Jury has clearly improved over the last couple of fights, but if Sanchez is still able to perform at anything approaching a high level he should win. Sanchez hasn't finished a fight since 2008, so this one is likely going the distance too.
Winner: Diego Sanchez, Decision
Paul Lapointe: This match is the judge, jury and executioner for Myles Jury. Ha, I just noticed that. Carrying on, Myles is undefeated and only truly looked bad against Mike Ricci. As for Diego in my opinion he has not truly won a contest in 5 years with his gifted decisions put by the wayside. That being known he is still a threat and good measuring stick for a kid that has all the raw tools. As for the fight, Diego needs to make this a dog fight as he always tends to be able to do and if he can, then he can take this as his dome is made of balsamic wood with a brain to match. On the otherhand if Miles can outgrapple the dream it could be his own nightmare. Jekyll and Hyde in mind I side on the side of ultraviolance and go with Diego.
Winner: Sanchez, TKO, RD2
The staff picks Myles Jury, 5-3.
Welterweight Bout: Carlos Condit vs. Tyron Woodley
Jeffrey Harris: Interesting fight. Woodley's been a little inconsistent so far in the UFC. He came in and looked very impressive against Jay Hieron, had a horrendous fight against Jake Shields, and then stopped Josh Koscheck. If this fight becomes a striking battle though, I think Woodley will go down. However, Woodley also has strong wrestling skills, typically one of Condit's weaker areas as well as his takedown defense. However, while Woodley is a good wrestler, he's not the caliber of wrestler that Johny Hendricks or Georges St-Pierre are. While this is three rounds, I think ultimately Condit's technique will come through and he will be able to find a way to stop Woodley to likely secure the next title shot.
Winner: Carlos Condit, TKO, Round 3
Wyatt Beougher: Woodley has the distinction of being in one of the most boring fights I've ever seen (unsurprisingly against Jake Shields), but he also now has the distinction of being the guy who retired Jay Hieron, so I guess there's that. Since getting labelled as a "points" fighter in Strikeforce, Woodley has actually picked up both of his UFC wins by KO, so I'm hoping against an opponent like Condit, who rarely has a boring fight, we'll get the exciting Woodley. Unfortunately for Tyron, in Condit, he's facing an opponent who is better on the feet and will use every offensive opportunity Woodley mounts to pick him apart with counterstrikes. If Woodley can get Condit to the ground and hold him down, he could certainly win this fight, but let's not forget that Condit has nearly as many wins from submission as he does from (T)KO, including multiple wins from the bottom, and it tends to look like a rough night for Woodley. I still think Condit should be in the main event, but at least a win here will set up the rematch with Hendricks that the welterweight division needs.
Winner: Condit, TKO, Round 3
Koeddy Laemmle: I think Carlos Condit makes an argument for most underrated fighter on the UFC roster. Condit is as talented as just about anybody else in the world and I feel like regardless of who wins the main event and Welterweight championship, Condit will be coming for them. Woodley has heavy hands but Condit is so much more technically sound all around than Woodley that I feel he is a tad bit our of his element in this fight. Knowing he's fighting for a title shot I expect Condit to make a statement in this fight and completely dominate the standup game cutting him off with counter strikes and making Woodley fight most the fight backed up against the cage.
Winner: Carlos Condit, KO, RD 2
Alex Rella: Tyron Woodley talked himself into the co-main event and he could end up in title contention with a win. Condit is much higher up on the rankings and we all know how good of a striker he is, but he has had difficulty with high level wrestlers in the past. I think Condit will be able to win the fight standing up, but Woodley could pull out the upset if he gets multiple takedowns in.
Winner: Condit, Decision
Evan Zivin: This is the fight Woodley wanted. This is the fight that he pestered Dana White on Twitter for and now T-Wood's got it. Once it was established that UFC was gonna have Hendricks and Lawler fight for the vacant belt, it was obvious that Condit was going to be looked at as a potential #1 contender. UFC couldn't just give him that distinction, though. He was going to need to fight and, unfortunately, there weren't many options. Pretty much everyone in the Top Ten were either already booked, injured, or had fought Condit already. So, seeing the opportunity, Woodley campaigned for the fight and, even though Dana said the fight wouldn't happen, it's happening. They even extended the UFC Rankings from 10 to 15 fighters so Woodley could be ranked to make the fight seem more rational. How nice of them. As for the fight itself? Condit all day. This fight is going to be a stand-up war (and will be competing with Sanchez-Jury for Fight of the Night) and Woodley is a good striker but he's not as diverse or as precise as Condit's kickboxing. Whether it takes 15 minutes or 30 seconds, Condit will fight smart, finding his opportunities to land powerful countershots and go for the kill when it presents itself. You got what you wished for, Tyron. I just hope you can live with the consequences.
Winner: Carlos Condit, TKO, Round 1
Robert Practor: This has the potential to be a fun fight. Condit is all but guaranteed to meet the Hendricks-Lawler winner for a title shot with a victory here and I think he will make it there. Woodley is a nice prospect in the division but Condit has long been the top ranked fighter in the division behind GSP and Johny Hendricks. Despite possibly not having as much power as Woodley, Condit's striking game is elite and he should have the advantage there. Condit also has the endurance edge with some spectacular cardio. Wrestling has always been one of Condit's weaknesses and that plays into Tyron Woodley's biggest strength. Woodley's best hope is to consistently land the takedown but even if he does so, Condit is very dangerous and active off of his back so I don't see Woodley being able to smother him for the entire fight if he does get numerous takedowns. Condit needs to outwork Woodley and tire him out and I believe he will. I don't see him getting the finish but he should pick up a solid decision.
Winner: Carlos Condit, Decision
Robert Winfree: There's a real chance that Woodley is able to wet blanket this fight and win a decision. Putting Shields and Woodley on the same card is really risky because both fights involving them could be horrible. Fortunately Carlos Condit is almost always exciting. Condit is a vicious striker with a great gas tank and superb killer instinct, the biggest knock on Condit has been his takedown defense, and if he hasn't shored that up this fight will show it. Woodley wont hesitate to get close and look for takedowns, then just hold top position as long as he can. I'm still going with Condit, I'm not sure Woodley's chin will be up to the possible beating it will take and Condit is more than likely going to hit him at some point.
Winner: Carlos Condit, TKO Round 2
Paul Lapointe: T-Wood called a guy with the moniker of "The Natural Born Killer" in an interview recently as a point fighter. Let that comment truly sink in. Ok, now stop laughing and settle down. We all composed? Great, now kids outside of using an outside striking game that amounted to a cumalative point victory over Nick Diaz, Carlos Condit is anything but a point fighter. But when it comes to this fight I would use the same gameplan to ensure the W just to avoid Woodley stealing rounds with his wrestling. Rinse and repeat he gets two of three rounds.
Winner: Condit, Decision, RD3
The staff picks Carlos Condit, 8-0.
UFC Welterweight Championship Bout: Johny Hendricks vs. Robbie Lawler
Jeffrey Harris: And so we have the first UFC welterweight title bout in over six years that doesn't involve Georges St-Pierre...unless you want to count Carlos Condit vs. Nick Diaz. It's an intriguing match-up to be sure. Hendricks is seen by many as the uncrowned champion after losing a narrow split decision to GSP. Robbie Lawler has been the comeback kid since moved back down to welterweight and returned to the UFC. Lawler's got great striking and knockout power in his hands. It also looks like he's stepped up his overall game quite well after switching over to American Top Team. His wrestling, submission, and takedown defense all look much-improved. Rory MacDonald was probably one of the toughest and biggest challenges of his career, and he passed that test with flying colors. For this fight, I'm favoring Hendricks' striking and wrestling skills. I think he will have the edge in moving forward and getting the better of Lawler in his exchanges, but then mixing it up with some takedowns. That being said, I could see the fight going a number of ways. I could even see Lawler catching Hendricks and scoring the knockout. But my gut is saying Hendricks here.
Winner: Johny Hendricks, Decision
Wyatt Beougher: As I mentioned, I preferred Condit over Lawler for this fight; however, I can definitely see why Lawler is in the position that he's in. Unfortunately, I just can't see how Lawler wins this one short of a flash KO, but Hendricks has shown a very good chin to this point, so it seems pretty elementary to me. Lawler's last loss, a decision to Lorenz Larkin in his final Strikeforce fight, should give Hendricks the blueprint he needs to defeat Lawler, as he's a better wrestler than Larkin, and if he can get Lawler clinched against the cage, his dirty boxing should be enough to end the fight. Even if we see "70% Johny" again like we did against GSP, he's going to land a lot more punches against Lawler, and I think by the championship rounds, that's going to be enough for him to land either a big punch from the pocket or a combination against the cage and finally win the championship that was wrongly awarded to St. Pierre five months ago.
Winner and NEW UFC Welterweight Champion: Johny Hendricks, KO, Round 4
Koeddy Laemmle: Johny Hendricks wants this and bad. I don't think I've seen a guy as obsessed with becoming UFC champion since the man who recently vacated the Weleterweight Championship, Georges St-Pierre. I think Robbie Lawler is a bigger threat than he is getting credit for but he is going against one of the hottest fighters in mixed martial arts right now. Both guys are heavy hitters and I'd honestly be surprised if this one didn't end with a finish. If this thing goes on too long I expect Hendricks to use his wrestling and take control of the fight that way. This would be a major upset and quite the underdog story for Robbie Lawler is he were to win.
Winner: Johny Hendrick, KO, Round 3
Alex Rella: Johny Hendricks is a great fighter and I thought he beat GSP, but I'm picking Robbie Lawler in this one. Yes, Hendricks is the better wrestler but I think Lawler is the much superior striker. Hendricks has eight knockouts with his big left hand, but Lawler has eighteen knockouts from punches, head kicks, and some knees. Hendricks will take Lawler down, but he won't be able to finish him there. Lawler has shown a weakness to submissions in the past, but that isn't Hendricks' game. Lawler has only been knocked out once and that was close to ten years ago now, plus he was going up against much larger and stronger opponents in Strikeforce. Each round will start out with both men standing up so Lawler will have five chances to knock out Hendricks and even if he doesn't, I still think his striking will outweigh Hendricks' wrestling.
Winner: Lawler, KO, Round 3
Evan Zivin: I have been dying to see this fight since it was first announced. Both men have incredible stories that they bring into this title fight. Both men blossomed into elite fighters in front of our eyes, albeit in very different times. Lawler became a star 10 years ago. The only reason he didn't fight for the welterweight belt back then was because his training partner held the belt. He then fell into a period of varied success, winning the EliteXC Middleweight Championship before going 3-5 in Strikeforce, but then refocused himself for his UFC return and won three impressive fights to get himself to this title match. Hendricks shocked the world by knocking out Jon Fitch in December 2011 and has continued to impress since then, defeating Carlos Condit by decision and taking Georges St-Pierre to his physical and mental limit last November. There is no one else I want to see fighting for the vacant title than these two men and I couldn't be more excited. As for a winner, it's going to be Hendricks. Lawler looked good against Rory MacDonald, but an aggressive strategy like that against Hendricks will either result in in Lawler getting put on his back or knocked out. Hendricks has two powerful tools that will ensure victory: elite level wrestling, and his left hand. I know Lawler will put up a good fight and he may have an advantage the longer the fight goes, but Hendricks will be the aggressor and prove to be too much to handle for the Iowan. The beard is getting the belt. It's inevitable.
Winner: Johny Hendricks, TKO, Round 2
Robert Practor: I'm very excited for this fight. It could end quickly as both have amazing power but even if it goes into the later rounds, I see lots of dynamics that should make this fight really entertaining. Lawler could possibly have the edge in the striking game but I think Hendricks has a stronger overall game. Lawler has only been knocked out once in his career, almost ten years ago, but if anyone can turn his lights off Hendricks is the guy to do it. Hendricks could land the knockout blow or even outwork him through five rounds, but I just don't see Lawler knocking him out, so I will go with Hendricks with an early KO to become the new Welterweight Champion.
Winner: Johny Hendricks, KO, Round 1
Robert Winfree: The build for this fight has been bad. Shockingly so in many ways. But that doesn't detract from the fact that this should be a fun fight. Both Hendricks and Lawler have serious power, Lawler is the better striker though. Hendricks generally has just his big left hand while Lawler has a diverse striking skill set. Lawler's sprawl has looked good lately, unfortunately for him if Hendricks looks for takedowns they're rarely of the power double variety. As long as Johny Hendricks fight smart and doesn't decide to just trade strikes with Lawler, he should mix up striking with clinch work and takedowns, likely landing some decent ground and pound along the way. I'm not sold on a finish here, but I think Hendricks is in the best position to win this one.
Winner: Johny Hendricks, Decision
Paul Lapointe: Though Robbie Lawler recently stated he forwent any real sparring training when in Strikeforce, I do not really see that statement being his overall failure when it comes to his losses there. When he did lose he lost on the ground and was wrestled into submission and exhaustion and when he was outstruck it only made Ruthless angry like a bird. I mean just ask Melvin Manhoef...that one round war was just vicious. So what does this mean for our title fight here? Well the ads are hoping to stir the point that this could be a stand and bang classic which it could be. See the evidence that is all the recent Hendricks kill shots that has wowed us with how dynamic and explosive his striking prowess has become. I mean right Jon Fitch? Oh snap your in WSOF...um Kampman? Oh your resting your brain for a while. Well anyway Johny is a wrestler and if he wants to wear a big gold belt he needs to use that here and avoid the hammers of death that are the fists of one Mr. Lawler.
Winner: Hendricks, Submission, RD4
The staff picks Johny Hendricks, 7-1.
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