On Saturday, March 15, the UFC hosted UFC 171: Hendricks vs. Lawler from the American Airlines Center in Dallas.

In the main event, the promotion’s vacant welterweight championship was on the line as Johny Hendricks battled Robbie Lawler. Hendricks looked to claim gold after falling short against previous title holder Georges St-Pierre at UFC 167 in November. The loss snapped a six-fight winning streak for the former national champion wrestler. Lawler, meanwhile, had ascended the 170-pound ladder with three straight wins since returning to the promotion after stints with Strikeforce and EliteXC.

The co-main event featured former interim champion Carlos Condit against former Strikeforce title challenger Tyron Woodley in a fight to determine who will be the first to challenge the Hendricks-Lawler winner. Condit suffered back-to-back losses to the aforementioned St-Pierre and Hendricks, but rebounded with a win over Martin Kampmann in August. Woodley entered the bout riding the momentum of a first-round knockout of Josh Koscheck in November.

Also on the main card, former Strikeforce title holder Jake Shields faced off with former Bellator kingpin Hector Lombard, lightweight Diego Sanchez faced unbeaten Myles Jury, and light heavyweights Nikita Krylov and Ovince St. Preux squared off.

The 13-fight event kicked off Saturday at 6 p.m. ET with four fights streaming on the promotion’s digital network, UFC Fight Pass. Four additional preliminary bout followed on Fox Sports 2 at 8 p.m. ET, with the pay-per-view main card airing live at 10 p.m. ET.

Hendricks outlasts Lawler to earn vacant welterweight title

Johny Hendricks became the new welterweight champion, defeating Robbie Lawler in a fight that came down to the final round.

Hendricks landed two outside leg kicks very early on. Lawler made him pay with multiple hard punches, but Hendricks just ate them up and circled back to the center of the Octagon. Hendricks looked to press Lawler against the cage. He ate a left hand, but was able to get the fight on the fence. Hendricks decided to break after a bit and landed an uppercut. Hendricks shot in on a takedown, but Lawler successfully defended it. Hendricks still kept throwing the low kicks to keep Lawler guessing. Hendricks landed a nice combination finishing with an uppercut, but Lawler just smiled back at him. Hendricks kept with the kick theme and ended a combination by going for a head kick.

Lawler landed a left hand to get the striking going. Hendricks then pressed forward and the two traded punches. Both men were hit with hard shots, but both men stayed upright. Hendricks just kept being the more diversified striker. He landed with some great combinations that had knees and leg kicks mixed in with his signature left hand. Lawler was able to back Hendricks off a bit with a lead right hook. Hendricks tried to take the fight down to the mat late in the round, but Lawler was still having nothing of it. Lawler started moving forward, but he was starting to get picked apart in the final seconds.

Hendricks went after a big hematoma on Lawler’s leg early in the third, connecting with both an inside and an outside leg kick. Hendricks just continued to build on what he didn’t in the second with the long combinations connecting on Lawler. Lawler just stayed moving forward and rocked Henricks bad with a left hand. Lawler started to pour on the pressure and it looked like Hendricks might be close to being finished. Hendricks bought himself a bit of time with a takedown attempt. He didn’t complete it, but it gave him more time to recover. Lawler still saw blood in the water and started coming forward with a constant jab. The two slowed in the final seconds as they headed toward the championship rounds.

Lawler came forward as the aggressor to begin the fourth round. Hendricks had to eat a big left hand from Lawler after landing a leg kick of his own. Lawler continued to find a home for that jab and Hendricks’ face began to show the wounds of war. It was almost an opposite situation from round two. The  right eye where Lawler landed the big left hand in the third began to swell and bleed big time. Hendricks started pawing at that eye to try and stop the blood from impairing his vision. Hendricks came back and landed a solid uppercut, but Lawler just kept with the smile that he had been wearing for the entire bout. Hendricks finally landed his first takedown of the fight with seconds remaining.

Hendricks came out early looking low at a takedown in what was likely the decisive round of the fight. Hendricks shot in on a single leg after ducking under a punch from Lawler. Lawler initially defended, but Hendricks pressed him up against the cage and stayed after that takedown. Lawler stayed upright until the referee broke them off of the cage. Hendricks went for a takedown immediately after a combination of punches and leg kicks, but Lawler was still able to sprawl and defend it. Lawler landed another lead right hook, Hendricks fired back and the two started to engage in a bit of a slugfest in the closing stages. Hendricks opened up with the left hand and was wobbling Lawler. Hendricks finally got a takedown with a minute remaining that won him the championship.

Woodley claims win after Condit injures knee

Tyron Woodley came away with a win over Carlos Condit after a gruesome knee injury to the former interim champion.

Woodley stuck Condit with a big right hand very early in the fight. It didn’t drop Condit, but it definitely backed him up a bit. Condit then tried to come back and got stuck a few more times. Condit then got a bit reckless and threw a spinning back kick. Woodley used that opportunity to grab a hold of Condit and press him up against the cage. Condit defended any takedown attempt and was able to break the clinch. Condit then had Woodley up against the fence and landed a solid left hand and a kick. Woodly exploded off the fence and landed a takedown. Condit went for a triangle choke and Woodley slammed him out of it. Woodley landed a spinning strike as the round came to a close, but Condit was able to weather it.

Woodley again landed a nice right hand early after a front kick attempt from Condit. Woodley scored another counter takedown and Condit winced and grabbed his knee a bit. The referee stood the two fighters up. Woodley landed a leg kick and Condit’s opposite knee buckled and the fight was over.

Jury bests Sanchez

Myles Jury stayed unbeaten and scored the biggest win of his career over Diego Sanchez.

Jury landed a right hand early and that was exactly was Sanchez wanted as he started to urge him to come forward. Sanchez then came forward on his own and landed a solid right hand thens pressed Jury up against the fence. Sanchez threw a body kick, but Jury caught the kick and shrugged Sanchez off. Sanchez then went forward with one of his crazy combinations and landed one of those punches. Jury stayed composed and grazed Diego’s face with a head kick. Jury then scored a takedown with less than a minute remaining to probably secure the round.

Sanchez tried once again to engage fury in a slugfest early in the second, but Jury just stayed composed and circled off of the fence. Jury then landed an elbow that opened up a cut on the left cheek of Sanchez. The blood didn’t change Sanchez’ style again and he landed a nice right hand. Diego continued to try and move forward, but Jury just used good movement and was starting to pick him apart from distance. Jury landed a right hand and then got a takedown again late in the round. Sanchez locked up full guard immediately and tried for a guillotine choke but it was never close. Sanchez scrambled and got back to his feet as the round came to an end.

Sanchez again came out with one of his signature guns blazing charges early in the final round, but again Jury was able to avoid any major damage. Jury went high with a kick, but Sanchez was ready and blocked the kick. Sanchez started changing his style up a bit and started going after the body. Sanchez landed a few body kicks and then a body punch. Sanchez was finally able to defend a Jury takedown, but it was all for not as Jury secured a takedown about thirty seconds later. Jury was in top position and Sanchez still tried to go for a last gasp submission, but he wasn’t able to secure anything.

Lombard too much for Shields

Hector Lombard defended all of Jake Shields takedowns and landed all of his on his way to a dominant decision win.

Lombard came right at Shields to kick it off. He was throwing punches to the body and ended up throwing Shields to the ground rather easily. Shields threw a body kick and was again just pushed right off. Lombard swung and missed wildly with a left hand and Shields ducked under for a takedown, but it was stuffed. Lombard pressed Shields up against the cage and landed a big punch that cut Shields on the break. Lombard stayed steadily stalking Shields. He defended another takedown and rocked Shields. Shields stayed alive by advancing to full guard. Shields was able to control the posture and avoid damage for the final minute of the round.

Lombard showed his strength advantage again early in the second round. The fighters were in the clinch and Lombard just tripped him and slammed him into the canvas. He was in side control, but he didn’t go for much offensively and Shields was able to get back to full guard. Lombard still didn’t go for much and the referee stood the fighters back up. Shields tried for another takedown, but it was defended for the fifth time in a row. Once the fighters clinched again Lombard got another great judo throw. Shields got back to full guard and Lombard still didn’t go for anything offensively from the top position.

Lombard was still breathing heavily to begin the final frame and Shields looked to press the pace. There was a groin strike to Shields, but he didn’t take much time to recover and went back to moving forward. Shields dove in hard on another single leg takedown, but Lombard defended once again and ended up on top. But, once again Lombard simply stalled and the referee brought the fighters back to their feet. Once they did it was just deja vu all over again. Lombard defended a Shields takedown, ended up on top inside full guard and just stayed there and held on. The referee stood the men up one final time with a minute left in the fight. Shields threw a knee to the body and tried to jump on a guillotine choke, but the final bell ended all of Shields chances.

St. Preux chokes out Krylov

Ovince St.Preux choked Nikita Krylov unconscious with a Von Flue choke for his fourth straight win.

St.Preux landed the first significant strike of the main card with a body kick to the ribs of Krylov. St.Preux turned that kick into a takedown where he immediately entered into side control. Krylov was holding a guillotine and St. Preux wrapped his arm around the neck of Krylov. Before anyone knew what was going on Krylov was unconscious.

Preliminary Card Summary

Kelvin Gastelum and Rick Story closed the prelims with a great welterweight battle. Gastelum improved to 3-0 inside the UFC with a split decision win. The fight seemed to be clearly going the way of Gastelum for about the first nine minutes of the fight. Gastelum cut Story on the cheek with a punch only seconds into the fight and nearly finished him in the first. Gastelum was also clearly winning the second until Story land a flush right hook with less than a minute left in the round. Story pounced, but Gastelum was seemingly saved by the bell. Gastelum was doing well in the third, but Story came back again and got Gastelum’s back this time. He was never really close to getting the choke and Gastelum turned the tide with just enough time left in the round to get the decision from two of the judges.

Jessica Andrade picked up her second UFC victory with a split decision over Raquel Pennington. In the end it was probably Andrade’s aggression that won her the fight. She brought the pressure from the opening bell and took Pennington down with a nice throw in the first round. She stayed on top for the majority of the round. Pennington attempted an arm bar but it was unsuccessful. In the second we saw a couple of great exchanges up against the cage. Andrade was the aggressor, but Pennington landed her fair share of stiff counter shots.Pennington’s best moments of the fight were the final thirty seconds of both the second and third round. She was close to getting a standing guillotine choke that was close and in the third she got a takedown and landed ground shots that looked like they were close to ending the fight. Pennington closed strongly, but Andrade had done enough throughout the bout to get the decision nod.

Dennis Bermudez rattled off his sixth straight victory after stopping Jimmy Hettes. Bermudez dominated Hettes over the first two rounds before stopping him in the third. Bermudez used a tenacious pace and mixed his takedowns with striking throughout. In the second Bermudez rocked Hettes with a punch that knocked out his mouthpiece. It looked like he was going to finish the bout but Hettes stayed in there. Hettes was clearly on the rocks and Bermudez put him away early in the third. He landed a knee that dropped Hettes and the ref had seen enough before he could even land a follow up.

Alex Garcia and Sean Spencer kicked off the Fox Sports 2 portion of the card with an entertaining slugfest between welterweight prospects. The first round was spent with Garcia looking for haymakers and Spencer looking to establish a jab. The second round is where the action really took off. Spencer rocked Garcia with a big hook after getting up from a takedown. He followed it up with a head kick and it looked like the fight could be over until Garcia returned the favor with a punch that rocked Spencer. Both men were on wobbly legs for the remainder of the round, but they certainly had the Dallas crowd on their feet. The third round wasn’t quite as exciting, but it was probably the deciding one in the fight. Garcia’s takedowns were ultimately the difference as he was eight for eight. That was just enough to edge Spencer for a split decision.

Frank Trevino overcame a rough first round against Renee Forte to win his UFC debut. Forte was able to take Trevino down early in the first round and he was smothering. He controlled that round from top position, but he didn’t do a good job of delivering damage. when the second round rolled around it looked like Forte might have blown his gas tank. Over the final two rounds Trevino used his clearly superior striking to pick apart an exhausted Forte and get the unanimous decision win.

Justin Scoggins looked like he could be a force to be reckoned with in the upper echelon of the flyweight division with a unanimous decision win over Will Campuzano. Scoggins mixed up his striking and wrestling perfectly throughout the fight. “Tank” landed a multitude of kicks in the first round and kept the pressure on Campuzano with takedowns and ground-and-pound. Scoggins had a scary moment in the second round where he was caught in a guillotine choke, but he remained calm and got out of the submission. The rest of that round and the majority of the third were spent with Scoggins peppering the face of Campuzano with punches and elbows from top position.

Sean Strickland had an impressive UFC debut on just over two weeks notice. The newcomer submitted Robert “Bubba” McDaniel with a rear naked choke in the very first round. Strickland’s striking looked smooth and he stuck McDaniel a few times. Strickland was just off with one left hook and McDaniel tried for a takedown. Ultimately, Strickland would end up on top and open up with some hard punches and elbows. McDaniel gave up his back late in the round and as soon as he did the choke was locked in and it was over.

In the “curtain jerker” bout of the evening Robert Whiteford picked up his first victory inside the Octagon with a unanimous decision over Daniel Pineda in a featherweight bout. Whiteford used some violent leg kicks to soften up Pineda and pressed him up the cage for the majority of the first round. Whiteford landed two flush head kicks in the second that opened up a cut on Pineda, but couldn’t finish him. Pineda looked to take advantage of an exhausted Whiteford in the third with some leg lock submission attempts, but he couldn’t get the tap and came up short in the judges’ eyes.

Johny Hendricks def. Robbie Lawler by unanimous decision (48-47 x3) – for vacant welterweight title
Tyron Woodley def. Carlos Condit by TKO (knee injury). Round 2, 2:00
Myles Jury def. Diego Sanchez by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Hector Lombard def. Jake Shields by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Ovince St. Preux def. Nikita Krylov by submission (Von Flue choke). Round 1, 1:29
Kelvin Gastelum def. Rick Story by split decision (28-29, 29-28, 30-27)
Jessica Andrade def. Raquel Pennington by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Dennis Bermudez def. Jimy Hettes by TKO (strikes). Round 3, 2:57
Alex Garcia def. Sean Spencer by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
Frank Trevino def. Renee Forte by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Justin Scoggins def. Will Campuzano by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Sean Strickland def. Robert “Bubba” McDaniel by submission (rear-naked choke). Round 1, 4:33
Robert Whiteford def. Daniel Pineda by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

About The Author

Trey Downey
Staff Writer

A Central Florida native, Trey Downey's interest in MMA came after a trip to Blockbuster and the rental of UFC 47 on VHS. He has been blogging about the sport since 2011 and hosted a podcast called The TD Experience focusing on football and MMA (touchdowns and takedowns). Trey studied radio and television at the University of Central Florida and will soon be attending the Connecticut School of Broadcasting. Trey enjoys watching sports, pro wrestling and is an avid runner.