“Ruthless” Robbie Lawler upset “Bigg RIgg” Johny Hendricks to win the UFC welterweight crown at UFC 181.
The judges saw it 48-47, 47-48 and 49-46.
Fight-of-the-Night went to Sergio Pettis and Matt Hobar. Performances of the night went to Anthony Pettis and Josh Samman. They all earned $50,000 USD bonuses.
Many people were surprised when Bruce Buffer announced the decision. Lawler to most observers won round five and possibly Round One, but thought rounds two, three and four belonged to Hendricks.
Hendricks used his wrestling to take some starch out of Lawler in the middle rounds, and also landed many more strikes. Lawyer, however inflicted a lot of damage with his kicks and knees.
CM Punk will make his UFC debut in 2015.
Welcome back to The Crossfire.
UFC FIGHT PASS EARLY PRELIMS
ALEX “THE SPARTAN” WHITE VS “CASSIUS” CLAY COLLARD
WINNER: CLAY COLLARD VIA UNANIMOUS DECISION (29-28, 29-28,29-28)
ANDREWS PREDICTION: ALEX WHITE VIA UNANIMOUS DECISION
Andrews: A nice technical fight and good win for Collard. Clay landed the takedowns and outstruck a game White. A good performance by both fighters.
SERGIO “THE PHENOM” PETTIS VS MATT “THE CROWBAR” HOBAR (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
WINNER: SERGIO PETTIS VIA UNANIMOUS DECISION
ANDREWS PREDICTION: SERGIO PETTIS VIA UNANIMOUS DECISION
Andrews: Pettis overcame the grappling skills of Hobar, ultimately peppering Hobar with a steady assortment of strikes after Hobart took him into deep waters in the first. Good win for Sergio.
SPORTSNET 360 PRELIMS
RAQUEL “ROCKY” PENNINGTON VS ASHLEE EVANS-SMITH
WINNER: RAQUEL PENNINGTON VIA SUBMISSION
ANDREWS PREDICTION: RAQUEL PENNINGTON VIA UNANIMOUS DECISION
Andrews: Excellent Bulldog choke by Pennington to seal the deal at the buzzer. Until then, Evans-Smith was using her grappling against the cage and doing well. As she said afterwards, every second counts in the octagon.
COREY “BEASTIN 25/8” ANDERSON VS JUSTIN “LAZYBONES” JONES
WINNER: COREY ANDERSON VIA UNANIMOUS DECISION (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
ANDREWS PREDICTION: COREY ANDERSON VIA TKO
Andrews: Anderson’s grappling, clinch work and striking helped take the starch out of Jones after the first round. Anderson was content to pile up the points. Good win for Corey.
EDDIE “TRUCK” GORDON VS JOSH SAMMAN
WINNER: JOSH SAMMAN VIA TKO
ANDREWS PREDICTION: JOSH SAMMAN VIA SECOND ROUND TKO 3:08
Andrews: Wow! What a left head-kick by Josh after getting smothered by the lay-and-pray of Gordon. Great win for Samman.
#3 “THE CALIFORNIA KID” URIJAH FABER VS #11 FRANCISO “CISCO” RIVERA
WINNER: URIJAH FABER VIA SUBMISSION
ANDREWS PREDICTION: URIJAH FABER VIA SECOND ROUND SUBMISSION 1:34
Andrews: Not a good stoppage as Mario Yamasaki missed the unintentional but clear eyepoke that set Rivera up for the Bulldog choke. Unfortunate, as Rivera was winning the fight with strikes up until that point.
MAIN CARD (10PM ET/7PM PT)
TONY “EL CUCUY” FERGUSON VS ABEL “KILLA” TRUJILLO
WINNER: TONY FERGUSON VIA SECOND ROUND SUBMISSION
ANDREWS PREDICTION: TONY FERGUSON VIA UNANIMOUS DECISION
Andrews: Ferguson outlasted the powerful strikes of Trujillo in the first round. Trujillo faded after that, and Ferguson turned on the cardio to lock in the rear naked choke. Good win for Ferguson.
TODD DUFFEE VS ANTHONY “FREIGHT TRAIN” HAMILTON
WINNER: TODD DUFFEE VIA TKO
ANDREWS PREDICTION: TODD DUFFEE VIA TKO 0:33
Andrews: Duffee caught Hamilton with a vicious right hand to the temple. Before that, he had Hamilton sprawling for a takedown. If you blinked, you missed it. Good return for Todd.
#3 TRAVIS “HAPA” BROWNE VS BRENDAN “BIG BROWN” SCHAUB
WINNER: TRAVIS BROWNE VIA TKO
ANDREWS PREDICTION: BRENDAN SCHAUB VIA TKO
Andrews: Hapa was too big and long for Schaub, who couldn’t figure out hoe to get inside. Browne took Schaub to the ground and flattened him out, forcing Mario Yamasaki to call the bout. Excellent win for Hapa.
ANTHONY “SHOWTIME” PETTIS VS GILBERT “EL NINO” MELENDEZ
WINNER: ANTHONY PETTIS VIA SUBMISSION
ANDREWS PREDICTION: ANTHONY PETTIS VIA SPLIT-DECISION
Andrews: Another excellent performance by Showtime, locking in a guillotine to catch a surprised Melendez. Gilbert did really well, pressuring Pettis against the cage, but Pettis proves again that he is a keen student of the game.
JOHNY “BIGG RIGG” HENDRICKS VS #1 “RUTHLESS” ROBBIE LAWLER
Opponents Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler face off during the UFC 181 weigh-in inside the Mandalay Bay Events Center on December 5, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
WINNER: ROBBIE LAWLER VIA SPLIT-DECISION (48-47, 47-48, 49-46)
ANDREWS PREDICTION: ROBBIE LAWLER VIA TKO
Andrews: I was initially surprised as I thought Hendricks won rounds two, three and four. Then I watched the match again. According to the fight stats, Lawler outstruck Hendricks in total strikes and significant strikes. The fourth round was the key round, and Lawler outstruck him there. I think Hendricks landed those five takedowns (out of seventeen), but in the judges eyes, did not do enough with them.
And Lawler finished the essential round five the way Hendricks did at UFC 171, leaving another imprint on the judges. Johny admitted in the post-fight press conference that not finishing strong was a mistake. He will be back. What a journey for Robbie Lawler. Congrats!