With everything that has happened in the MMA world this year, it could be understandable why some would forget that UFC 181, live this Saturday from Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, will mark UFC welterweight champion Jonny Hendricks’ first defense against Robbie Lawler, the man he defeated back at UFC 171 in Dallas to claim the belt.

The only real difference between the two, outside of Lawler’s propensity to defendmore takedowns than he attempts in contrast to the champ, is the fact that the challenger has fought twice since their first bout, which some felt should have gone Lawler’s way, while others agreed that Hendricks won, though everyone agreed that the fight was not one-sided by any means.

That being said, how can Hendricks ensure a clearer win this second time out?

Remember his roots

Hendricks might be known more for his knockout power than for his wrestling, but as we’ve come to learn in this sport, just because someone doesn’t always show something, it doesn’t mean they are inept in that area. You can’t forget that Hendricks was a two time national champion when he wrestled at Oklahoma State University. Besides, those that supported Hendricks winning against Lawler in Dallas always pointed to the wrestling as the key to the win, but Lawler likely has Hendricks’ techniques scouted, so he might want to change the way in which he sets up his takedowns.

Conserve the power, strike for oil

Hendricks knows firsthand just how tough Lawler’s chin is and that may have factored into why he didn’t move in for the kill when the opportunity presented itself in the first fight. Hendricks has to save the power shots for when the going really gets tough and focus more on overwhelming Lawler to where Lawler will have no choice but to fold. Otherwise, Hendricks could find himself in store for a long night.

Expect an encore

It only takes one big shot from Lawler, telegraphed or not, to throw whatever Hendricks’ game plan out the window. The minute the bout starts to resemble the first five rounds of action, all bets are off and then the outcome depends solely on what both men choose to do (or not do) to swing the decision in their favor. Should Hendricks have any desire to become a long term champion, he will need to make sure that his gas tank is equipped to last longer than three rounds, because you can bet that Lawler plans to make this one another long night for the champ.

About The Author

Dale De Souza
Staff Writer

Dale De Souza is a 22-year-old kid straight out of Texas, who grew up around Professional Wrestling but embraced the beauty of Mixed Martial Arts and Combat Sports at a young age. Dale is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report MMA, a writer at The MMA Corner.