Ladies and gentlemen, the moment we have all been waiting for. UFC 171 finally answered the question of who will inherit Georges St. Pierre’s belt after his abrupt retirement from the sport. But, before we get to that, let’s discuss the undercard.
The night started out with a light heavyweight match-up between Ovince St. Preux and Nikita Krylov. The fight only lasted about a minute and a half, but it was exciting to see a guy with big knockout power like St. Preux deliver an extremely technical submission to end the fight. Just when Krylov thought he had his opponent right where he wanted him (in a guillotine choke), St. Preux was able to reverse it with a hardly ever used, Von Flue choke and end the fight. Look out folks, a light heavyweight that can knock you out or tap you out. I would love to see a battle between him and Vitor Belfort.
Winner via technical submission (Von Flue Choke): Ovince St. Preux
That would be a tough act to follow for anyone, but we can count on former Strikeforce middleweight champ Jake Shields to keep the momentum going, right? Wrong! Shields has had a rocky road since he entered the UFC. He won a highly controversial match against Martin Kampmann to earn a title shot again Georges St. Pierre which he lost. Followed that up with a devastating 53 second loss to Jake Ellenberger, and failed a drug test following his fight against Ed Herman. He squeaked out a couple split decisions after that, but Saturday night’s fight against Hector Lombard proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Shields has no business in the UFC. Lombard, who is a middle of the road fighter at best, absolutely dominated the former Strikeforce champion for all three rounds. From the second they touched gloves, the fight belonged to Lombard. He was not only able to stuff all of Shields takedowns, he was able to execute his own takedowns and throws, and capitalize on all of them. Though he couldn’t put the former champ down for the count, he did everything but.
Winner via beatdown and unanimous decision: Hector Lombard
Following the last two fights of the card, I really expected a snoozer. There is no way there could be three good fights in a row. Well, I guess I was wrong again. Myles Jury, who got eliminated from not one, but two seasons of The Ultimate Fighter stepped in the octagon against former fan favorite Diego Sanchez. On paper, I thought Sanchez had the advantage. Bigger fights and bigger wins against much more seasoned opponents, but I guess every fighter has to make their name off of someone, and for Myles Jury that fighter was Diego Sanchez. Jury absolutely devastated the former TUF champion for all three rounds. Every time Sanchez tried to mount any type of offensive, Jury had an answer in a big way. He countered everything Sanchez threw at him. For every takedown he stuffed, he mounted one of his own. For every flurry of punches, he threw big damaging shots of his own. After three rounds of this, the judges had seen enough to award Jury the 30-27 decision.
Winner via unanimous decision: Myles Jury
At this point in the night, it really seems to be turning into a night of mid-level guys just destroying top tier fighters. That being said, I still had to pick Carlos Condit to win over Tyron Woodley. And by now you should all know, always bet against me. The fight started out great. There was a ton of back and forth between the fighters. Woodley pushed forward with huge punches and Condit, who never backs down, took them and doled out some great strikes of his own. Woodley scored a takedown in the first round, which only resulted in Condit working submissions from the bottom. In the second round, Condit was really hitting his stride, when Woodley delivered a huge leg kick that visibly dislocated Condit’s knee. He crumbled to the ground in anguish as Woodley threw some parting shots to stamp an end to it.
Winner via TKO: Tyron Woolly
OK, so if I was a betting man, I would be absolutely broke by this point in the evening. Thank God I wouldn’t have to bet on the main event of the evening between Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler for the vacated welterweight title. Lawler being one of my all time favorites taking on one of my up and coming favorites in the form of Johny Hendricks. For once, either way my fighter wins. Only drawback is that either way, my fighter loses too. But alas, only one of them promised me that they would be the champ. (See My Interview with Johny Hendricks). And I guess he is a man of his word. In a night of brawls, this fight really delivered above all of the rest. This fight was more back and forth than a tennis match. These two contenders were content to just stand across from each other and trade strikes for five full rounds. It was an incredible sight to see. The momentum of the fight shifted back and forth with exchanges of flurries, clinches, leg kicks, and of course, heavy handed punches. Either fighter could have easily won the fight at any moment. In the fifth round, Hendricks took a slight upper hand, rocking Lawler with a huge left hand and following it up with a late takedown. And away to the judge’s table we go. All three judges scored the fight 48-47 in favor of Johny Hendricks, and for once, I could not argue with the judges. Hendricks was a little busier for portions of the fight and was able to secure a few takedowns. This was just enough to edge out the victory. I don’t think we have seen the last of the Hendricks – Lawler saga, and personally, I can’t wait for the next installment.
Winner via unanimous decision: Johny Hendricks
Preliminary Fight Card Results:
Kelvin Gastelum def. Rick Story via split decision
Jessica Andrade def. Raquel Pennington via split decision
Dennis Bermudez def. Jimy Hettes via TKO
Alex Garcia def. Sean Spencer via split decision
Francisco Trevino def. Renee Forte via unanimous decision
Justin Scoggins def. Will Campuzano via unanimous decision
Sean Strickland def. Bubba McDaniel via submission (rear naked choke)
Rob Whiteford def. Daniel Pineda via unanimous decision
Post Fight Honors:
Fight of the Night: Robbie Lawler and Johny Hendricks (obviously)
Performance of the Night: Ovince St. Preux and Dennis Bermudez
all photos credit: ufc, except johnny hendricks photo – from figther himself