On Saturday, December 6th the UFC held UFC 181: Hendricks vs. Lawler II from the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.

In the night’s main event we saw a rematch of one of the best fights of 2014 when Johnny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler clashed for the second time for the welterweight title. In March, Hendricks defeated Lawler to win the vacant title in a fight that literally came down to the final minute of the last round. The fight was seemingly tied at two rounds a piece leading into the final round and after an even round, Hendricks landed a timely takedown in the final moments. The look on Lawler’s face after he got taken down told the story. The veteran welterweight had let the title slip through his grasp.

Hendricks was injured in that fight and hadn’t fought since. Lawyer however got right back in the cage. He knocked out Jake Ellenberger in May and won a decision over Matt Brown in July to earn the rematch against Hendricks.

The welterweight title fight wasn’t the only one on the card Saturday. Anthony Pettis defended his lightweight title for the first time against number one contender, Gilbert Melendez. Pettis was long considered one of the biggest rising stars in the sport and that potential was finally realized last August when he defeated Benson Henderson to become the lightweight champion.

Pettis took time off after that fight due to an injury and is now making his first title defense because of his coaching duties on the current season of The Ultimate Fighter opposite Melendez. Melendez only had two fights inside the octagon. His debut was a close decision loss to then champion, Henderson. Melendez followed that loss with a decision victory over Diego Sanchez in one of the best fights in the division history.

Those two title fights were only part of a very stacked card. Travis Browne returned for the first time in eight months against Brendan Schaub on the pay-per-view card and Urijah Faber faced Fransisco Rivera in preliminary action. The pay-per-view card kicked off at 10 p.m. ET the preliminary action preceded that on both Fox Sports 1 and UFC Fight Pass beginning at 7 p.m. ET.

Main Card Summary

Johny Hendricks vs. Robbie Lawler—UFC welterweight title fight

Round 1: Lawler came out of the gates straight up mauling Hendricks with knees and punches. Hendricks began to answer back with a few uppercuts before Lawler secured the muay thai plum and landed a half dozen or so knees. Hendricks dug deep for a single leg takedown, but Lawler defended it easily and continued nailing Hendricks with knees. Lawler landed more and more knees to the body of Hendricks before finally separating from the cage. Hendricks landed a few leg kicks and secured a takedown with 25 seconds left in the round. 10-9 Lawler.

Round 2: The round began with both fighters exchanging kicks. Both fighters seemed as if they were looking for an opening to counter the other. Hendricks continued to blast Lawler’s leg with kicks while mixing some good punches. Robbie seemed to be slowing down two minutes into the round. Hendricks went for another takedown midway through the round and finally secured it after a bit of a battle. Hendricks proceeded to tag Lawler with some punches as he did everything he could to keep Lawler on the mat. Lawler finally made his way back to his feet and landed a vicious front kick to Hendrick’s face. Hendricks turned up the pace towards the end of the round to finish off strong. 10-9 Hendricks.

Round 3: Hendricks started the round throwing nice combinations while Lawler looked to land front kicks to Hendrick’s body. Hendricks maintained his position in the middle of the cage and dictated the pace of the first half of the third round while peppering Lawler’s legs with multiple kicks. Lawler wasn’t offering up much of anything in the form of offense and Hendricks took advantage and dragged Lawler down to the mat where the round ended. 10-9 Hendricks.

Round 4: Lawler came out looking to make something happen, but he ended up getting bullied right into the cage by Hendricks. They ended up getting separated because of lack of action and Lawler went back into hunter mode. Lawler landed a nice headkick, but it didn’t seem to phase the champion. Hendricks continued to systematically breaking down Lawler as Lawler looked to land one big fight-ending blow. It appeared that Lawler may have hurt his right hand. Hendricks went for another takedown, but Lawler denied him and landed a bunch of clean shots as the round came to an end. 10-9 Hendricks

Round 5: Hendricks came out guns blazing and drove Lawler hard into the cage looking for the takedown after a whole lot of nothing against the cage, the fighters were broke up and started slugging it out in the middle of the cage again. Hendricks once again to the “press Lawler against the cage and do nothing” tactic. Herb Dean was quick to break them up and Hendricks went straight back to the aforementioned strategy. Lawler landed some heavy strikes to the champion who seemed to be stalling out for a decision as the fight came to an end. 10-9 Lawler.

Anthony Pettis vs. Gilbert Melendez—UFC lightweight title fight

Round 1: Melendez rushed across the cage right out of the gate and looked for the takedown. Melendez held on to the back of the champion searching for the takedown. Melendez then drilled hooks to the body of Pettis after he was unable to secure the takedown. Melendez really put the pressure to the champ who seemed to get a little frustrated with two minutes left in the round. Pettis managed to get off a couple of kicks before getting tied up by Melendez once again. Melendez seemed to get the better of the striking in the middle of the cage while Pettis threw the flashier strikes. 10-9 Melendez

Round 2: Melendez continued his nonstop pressure and landing good strikes. Pettis managed to land a good counterpunch that made Melendez think about taking the fight to the mat. Pettis nailed Melendez with a punch and Melendez went for another takedown. Melendez left his neck out hanging, Pettis sunk in a guillotine choke, and Pettis retained his title via submission.

Travis Browne vs. Brendan Schaub

Round 1: Both men started off the round slowly. Schaub attempted a head kick, but it missed the mark. Browne started to turn on the heat and Schaub answered with a good right hand of his own. Schaub then secured a takedown after an exchange of haymakers that missed their marks. Browne got back to his feet and landed a huge uppercut that floored Schaub. Browne secured the mount and landed more huge shots on “Big Brown.” It appeared like Browne was toying with Schaub a bit as he picked his shots. Schaub could not defend himself and the fight was stopped.

Todd Duffee vs. Anthony Hamilton

Round 1: Duffee comes out quickly looking to find his range. Duffee lands a big right hand that knocked Hamilton out.

Abel Trujilo vs. Tony Ferguson

Round 1: The round started off with Trujilo moving forward and throwing punches in bunches. Trujilo dropped Ferguson with a hard right, but Ferguson was quick to recover. Trujilo then scored a double-leg takedown, but Ferguson was quick to get the fight back to the feet. Ferguson landed a big body kick, only to be taken down by Trujilo. Trujilo then landed some heavy ground and pound while Ferguson tried to work his guard. With the fight back standing, Ferguson landed a few good punches of his own that sent Trujilo back peddling. Ferguson stalked down Trujilo for the rest of the round. 10-9 Trujilo.

Round 2: Ferguson picked up where he left off in the first by stalking Trujilo. Trujilo tried to land a bomb only to be taken down by Ferguson. Ferguson went for a d’arce choke, rear-naked choke, and an armbar, all which Trujilo escaped from. Ferguson continued to press the action on the ground. Trujilo looked dead tired with two minutes left in the round. Ferguson continued to work over Trujilo on the ground. Ferguson sinks in the rear-naked choke and Trujilo tapped out.


Robbie Lawler def. Johny Hendricks for welterweight title (48-47, 47-48, 49-46)

Anthony Pettis def. Gilbert Melendez via submission (guillotine choke) Round 2, 1:53 to retain the UFC lightweight title.

Travis Browne def. Brendan Schaub via TKO (strikes) Round 1, 4:50

Todd Duffee def. Anthony Hamilton via TKO (strikes) Round 1, :33

Tony Ferguson def. Abel Trujilo via submission (rear-naked choke) Round 2, 4:19

Urijah Faber def. Fransisco Rivera via submission (bulldog choke) Round 2, 1:34

Josh Samman def. Eddie Gordon via knockout (head kick) Round 2, 3:08

Corey Anderson def. Justin Jones via unanimous decision (30-27 x 2, 30-26)

Raquel Pennington def. Ashlee Evans-Smith via submission (bulldog choke) Round 1, 4:59

Sergio Pettis def. Matt Hobar by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

Clay Collard def. Alex White by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

About The Author

News Manager

José began his career as a mixed martial arts journalist while still enrolled at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State University. Since graduating in May 2013, he has attended dozens of high profile UFC fight cards as a credentialed member of the media, providing live cage side coverage through his articles and videos. His work has appeared on UFC.com, ArizonaSports.com and AZCentral. He is also currently one of the main contributors on Power MMA Show at Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, one of the first all MMA radio shows on a major radio station.