We have a new UFC welterweight champion.
Robbie Lawler won a split decision over Johny Hendricks in the main event at UFC 181 to become the promotion’s 170-pound champion on Saturday night in Las Vegas.
Despite being behind in total strikes going into the final round, Lawler turned up the volume late and won the split nod with scores of 48-47, 47-48 and 49-46.
“That’s how we fight in the UFC,” Lawler said. “That’s how you fight championship fights.”
Lawler came out swinging in this one. He pressured Hendricks and eventually forced a clinch, but Hendricks survived the offense and worked towards a takedown in the second half of the first round.
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The second round had Hendricks land an effective combination before pressuring against the fence and earning a takedown. Lawler, however, recovered and later landed a significant front kick. The two traded blows before the end of the second frame.
Hendricks utilized combinations as he continued his push in the third round. At several moments he threw punch combinations and finished them off with leg kicks, both on the inside and outside of Lawler’s thighs.
Hendricks continued landing more punches than Lawler as they entered the fourth round, staying far more active up to that point in the contenst. After a Hendricks takedown, Lawler was able find an angle to land several punches from behind his opponent’s back before the round’s time expired.
The final round had Hendricks clinching and pinning Lawler, preventing any attempts from the latter fighter to apply an offense. Lawler finally made some separation in the last 30 seconds and unloaded a barrage of strikes before the fight’s time expired.
With the win, Lawler evens up the score between the two fighters. In their first meeting, Hendricks won a unanimous decision in a competitive fight last March.
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