MMA: Johny Hendricks becomes Welterweight Champion at UFC 171 after see-saw contest against Robbie Lawler - WWE and MMA Wrestling - More Sports - The Independent

MMA: Johny Hendricks becomes Welterweight Champion at UFC 171 after see-saw contest against Robbie Lawler

The title had been vacated by long-time champion Georges St Pierre

For the first time in almost seven years, the UFC has a Welterweight Champion who is not called Georges St Pierre (GSP).

Back in November GSP barely hung on to his title by winning a split decision over Johny Hendricks. Most believe that the decision was unjust, yet it was what it was. In the aftermath, GSP announced that he was stepping away from the sport due to personal reasons and he would relinquish his title. At UFC 171 last Saturday Johny Hendricks would get another shot at the belt against veteran, Robbie Lawler, in his hometown of Dallas, Texas. 

There was an interesting atmosphere. Fighting for a vacant championship is far more common in boxing than in the UFC. In the UFC there is a feeling of needing to beat the champ to become the champ. Johny Hendricks, though, has always been absolute in his goal. He has never been bothered with beating the champ or any particular individuals. All Hendricks has ever wanted was the Welterweight Championship, whatever it took. 

In Robbie Lawler, there is a UFC story for the ages. He made his UFC debut at UFC 37 way back in May of 2002 at the age of 20. After two losses on the trot to Nick Diaz and Evan Tanner, and seemingly no longer motivated to participate at the highest level, the UFC dropped Lawler from the roster. Lawler would fight for various promotions until 2009 when he made his Strikeforce debut. The UFC acquired Strikeforce in 2011, and merged it into the UFC at the start of 2013. At this time, Lawler had three wins and five losses in Strikeforce; hardly something for him to write home about. Then something happened, something clicked. Lawler went on a tear! Josh Koscheck, Bobby Voekler and the ridiculously talented Rory Macdonald all fell by the wayside and finally, after 12 years in the game, Robbie Lawler had a shot at the title. 

So it was, two fighters with unrivalled knockout power in their arsenal stepped into UFC’s Octagon on Saturday night, ready to fulfil their dream. Hendricks was certainly favoured, though everyone suspected the fight would be over quickly with either contender securing the win by knockout. How wrong we were. 

Hendricks took the first two rounds, seemingly landing at will and using his striking combinations to great effect. Lawler seemed to just stand in front of Hendricks, and it was obvious that he was looking for one big knockout punch. It was Hendricks’ variety that was so impressive and after two rounds, a large hematoma had formed on Lawler’s leg resulting from Hendricks’ brutal leg kicks. Lawler though was still in there. 

Round three began. The situation changed dramatically. Lawler looked fresh as a daisy, Hendricks looked slightly gassed out. The day prior, Hendricks had been slightly over the necessary weight limit. With legendary trainer, Mike Dolce in his corner, this was very uncharacteristic and it transpired that the scales they had been using were damaged. On those scales they had been on weight, though not on the official scales. Hendricks lost the weight needed in the allocated time, but there was a question in the air as to how this might affect his condition. Was it now showing?

All of a sudden, Lawler started landing powerful shots. Half way through round three and Hendricks seemed out on his feet. Could this actually be happening? Was he going to miss out on the title yet again? Was Robbie Lawler going to complete his amazing career revitalisation? Lawler took round three, though had potentially missed an opportunity to finish the fight. He might have pressed more when Hendricks had been in trouble, but chose to reserve some energy. Hendricks showed his granite chin and somehow recovered. 

Round four, and more of the same. Lawler took it to Hendricks and was landing enormous punches to the head of Hendricks. Two rounds all. Hendricks was well aware of the situation and told his corner he needed the 5th. It was back and forth and the with little time to spare, Robbie Lawler’s tank became immediately empty. He had simply no energy left. Hendricks summed the last of his will and determination and scored the takedown necessary to win the round, the fight and the championship. This, though, had been a war. 

There is a new landscape in the UFC Welterweight division. Dominant champions are great for a sport, but so too is change, and that time for change has come. The division that seemed dull stuck in GSP’s stalemate has now opened wide up. There are at least three people who would deserve a chance to fight Hendricks for the belt. 

It was a staggeringly exciting fight card. The UFC, again, defied the odds and produced a masterclass. With dilution of quality due to the quantity of fights they put on this year being a real point of discussion, they somehow continue to produce. Extraordinary. 

News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
News
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
SCIENCE
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition attracted 562,000 visitors to the Tate Modern from April to September
art
Life and Style
Models walk the runway at the Tom Ford show during London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2015
fashionLondon Fashion Week 2014
News
Kenny G
news
News
peopleThe black actress has claimed police mistook her for a prostitute when she kissed her white husband
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Energy Markets Analyst

£400000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Energy Markets An...

Junior Web Analyst – West Sussex – Up to £35k DOE

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

Nursery Manager

£22000 - £23000 per annum: Randstad Education Bristol: We are currently recrui...

Web Analyst – Permanent – Up to £40k - London

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week