UFC 171 takes place Saturday night from Dallas, Texas with a series of high profile welterweight contests. In the main event, Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler will fight to crown a new UFC welterweight champion. Longtime champion Georges St. Pierre elected to take a sabbatical from the sport following a controversial decision win over Hendricks, leaving the division’s top prize up for grabs. Many felt Hendricks defeated St. Pierre and now the former NCAA wrestling champion with explosive knockout power will look to win the title he prizes so highly. Lawler has traveled a remarkable path to reach this point. He was considered one of the UFC's biggest future stars a decade ago, only to suffer a series of losses that dropped him out of the company. He was something of a journeyman middleweight when a trio of impressive wins in his return to the UFC earned him this spot. In the semi-main event, top contenders Carlos Condit and Tyron Woodley will fight looking to lock up the shot at the winner of the main event.
In preliminary action on UFC’s internet Fight Pass service, Robert Whiteford earned a unanimous decision win over Daniel Pineda. Sean Strickland impressed in his UFC debut, submitting Bubba McDaniel with a rear naked choke in the first round. Undefeated prospect Justin Scoggins scored a dominant unanimous decision victory over Will Campuzano. And Francisco Trevino overcame early trouble to best Renee Forte via unanimous decision.
UFC welterweight title: Johny Hendricks vs. Robbie Lawler
Hendricks was a dominant collegiate wrestler, twice winning the NCAA Division I title and finishing as an All American four times at Oklahoma State. He then added a quality striking game and explosive knockout power to his game. His latest fight against Georges St. Pierre was a heartbreaking and widely criticized decision loss and Hendricks now has a chance to get that title. Lawler was once thought to be a future dominant welterweight but he hit a lot of roadblocks on the way to this title shot. The prodigal son now returns to the position he was once firmly targeted for.
Round 1. Hendricks lands a leg kick to start. Lawler moves in with power punches and lands a series of big shots to the head. The crowd chants for Johny. Hendricks moves in and clinches. He presses Lawler against the cage and looks for a takedown. Hendricks can't get it so he throws a couple punches to the head and backs off. Hendricks then shoots for another takedown. Lawler defends nicely. Hendricks lands a knee to the body and backs off. He follows with a leg kick and a few punches. He hits Lawler with a good power punch and backs off. Lawler throws a few jabs and a straight punch that connects pretty well. Hendricks hits Lawler with a left punch and shoots in for another takedown attempt. Lawler defends well again. 10-9 Hendricks.
Round 2. Hendricks starts out a lot more active, throwing out lots of shots from different angles while Lawler sits back and looks to land a big power shot. Hendricks punishes Lawler with a nice combination of punches, kicks and a knee. Hendricks lands a few hard inside leg kicks. Lawler nails Hendricks with a power hook the briefly backs Hendricks up. Lawler stuffs a takedown defense easily but eats a punch on the break. Lawler moves in but eats a hook in the process. Lawler lands a hard punch but Hendricks smiles and answers back with a series of shots including a nice knee to the head. 10-9 Hendricks.
Round 3. Hendricks goes back to work with leg kicks. he grabs a clinch and lands some knees to the body. Hendricks keeps throwing volume punches. Lawler covers up and avoids damage but Hendricks is preventing him from getting off because of Hendricks' activity. Lawler stuns Hendricks with a left punch to the head and backs him against the cage with power punches. Hendricks is in big danger. He tries to answer back but keeps eating big punches. Hendricks is determined to fight out of danger. He's playing a very dangerous game. Hendricks finally shoots for a takedown but can't get it. Lawler is now the aggressor. Hendricks does land a nice knee. Lawler is more active with his jab, landing consistently on the chin of Hendricks. That was close to a 10-8 round. Hendricks didn't go down but Lawler came awfully close to finishing. He hurt Hendricks badly. 10-9 Lawler.
Round 4. Lawler is now the more active fighter. He lands a series of jabs and a knee to the head. He backs Hendricks against the cage but Hendricks fires back with a few punches of his own and a leg kick. Lawler is working the jab. Hendricks answers back with a body punch. Hendricks goes for a takedown but Lawler blocks it without any difficulty. Hendricks is bleeding badly. The blood is all around the right eye of Hendricks and is impairing his vision. Hendricks is becoming more active with his punches, however. Lawler grabs the Thai plum and lands a knee. Hendricks breaks and goes back to his leg kick. Lawler lands a big uppercut but Hendricks answers back with a combination of his own including an uppercut answer. Lawler becomes more active again with the jab, firing it out frequently to prevent Hendricks from becoming more active like he was in the first two rounds. Hendricks gets a takedown and lands some punches at the end. 10-9 Lawler. All tied up going into the fifth.
Round 5. Lawler goes back to the jab early. Hendricks moves in and gets caught with a counter. Lawler keeps peppering him with the jab. Hendricks grabs a leg and pushes Lawler against the cage. Hendricks almost gets Lawler down but Lawler is able to stop him. Hendricks continues to keep working as this could be the difference in the fight. Hendricks works and works but can't get it and the referee breaks them. Upon the break, Hendricks lands a nice combination with a leg kick at the end. Hendricks looks for a takedown but Lawler stuffs it easily. Hendricks lands a few hard punches that send Lawler back. He appears to stun Lawler with the punches. He follows with a big uppercut and some big straight punches. Lawler is getting tagged repeatedly. Hendricks backs Lawler against the cage and gets a takedown. He lands a few punches and that is it. 10-9 Hendricks, 48-47 Hendricks.
Winner: Johny Hendricks, unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 48-47).
That was a heck of an effort by Johny Hendricks. Lawler was pouring it on in the third and the fourth and it looked like it was strongly going Lawler's way. Hendricks pulled it out in the second half of the final round, beating a dangerous striker at his own game.
Carlos Condit vs. Tyron Woodley
Condit is one of the welterweight division's most highly regarded fighters. He has excellent striking and a very good jiu jitsu game as well. He's a closer. Following consecutive losses to Georges St. Pierre and Johny Hendricks, he rebounded with a victory over Martin Kampmann. Now, he looks to make another run at the gold. Woodley comes from a wrestling background and he has natural knockout power. His standup has improved but it still isn't as technical as Condit. A win here would put Woodley in the mix for a title shot. However, more than Condit he needs to win in a way that makes people take notice of him.
Round 1.They feel each other out early. Woodley connects with a hard punch right to the jaw. He lands another moments later. Condit has a great chin and takes both. Woodley lands another few hard punches from close range. Woodley nails Condit with another big punch from the clinch. Woodley punishes the body and they separate. Condit moves in and connects with a nice straight punch. Condit moves in with punches by the cage and is taken down. Condit goes for a triangle choke from the bottom but Woodley throws him off. Woodley takes Condit back down. He lets Condit up. Woodley lands a spinning back elbow and the round ends. 10-9 Woodley.
Round 2. Condit comes out with kicks. He lands one high on the slowing Woodley. Woodley answers with a hard looping punch. Woodley takes Condit down and Condit winces in pain from the fall. Woodley lands some punches and they are quickly stood up. Woodley lands a leg kick. Condit goes down in pain clutching his knee and the fight is stopped. Really sad to see the fight end like that.
Winner: Tyron Woodley, TKO, round 2.
Diego Sanchez vs. Myles Jury
Sanchez is an action fighter who has been fighting in high profile bouts for a great many years since winning the first season of the Ultimate Fighter. He is coming off a fight with Gilbert Melendez that was widely acclaimed but he has eaten a lot of shots in recent fights. Jury is an undefeated fighter on the rise with a wrestling background.
Round 1. Sanchez throws a spinning kick and eats a straight punch. Sanchez moves in and clinches. He can't get a takedown and backs off. Sanchez lands a nice punch. Sanchez moves in swinging wild punches but doesn't land. Jury connects with a right punch and a head kick. He backs off when Sanchez moves in. Jury takes Sanchez down with 30 seconds left. Sanchez grabs the heel but can't get anything. Jury lands a few punches as the round ends. 10-9 Jury.
Round 2. Jury catches Sanchez with an elbow early. There is a cut near the eye of Sanchez. It's just under. Sanchez moves in with punches and catches Jury with one. Sanchez is bleeding badly. Sanchez charges in but misses with his shots and Jury connects with a couple jabs. Jury scores a takedown with 90 seconds left in the round. Sanchez grabs a guillotine choke from the bottom and for a little while appears to have it pretty tight. But Jury gets himself out and drops a few punches. Sanchez stands up. 10-9 Jury.
Round 3. Sanchez charges in again and connects a few times with his punches. Jury continues to keep range with his jab but isn't connecting as much as he was earlier in the fight. Sanchez comes in with a body kick and gets countered at the same time. Sanchez throws a few leg kicks that connect. They clinch and Jury gets a takedown. Sanchez gets up and the round comes to an end. 10-9 Jury, 30-27 Jury.
Winner: Myles Jury, unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27).
Jake Shields vs. Hector Lombard
On a night filled with big welterweight bouts, this fight features two competitors looking to work their way into the title mix. Shields is a ground specialist who is 3-0 with 1 no contest in his last four. He challenged Georges St. Pierre for the welterweight title at the UFC's biggest live event in history, UFC 129. Lombard has explosive knockout power and a world class judo base as well. He was thought to be a top contender at 185 pounds when he signed with the UFC but struggled with a few lackluster performances and then moved to 170.
Round 1. Lombard throws Shields down when Shields tries to clinch. Lombard drops Shields with a punch and lets him back up. Shields was off balance but not hurt. Lombard lands some very hard punches right to the chin of Shields. Shields ducks down for a takedown but Lombard blocks it. Lombard hurts Shields with a hook from a clinch and cuts Shields open. Shields shoots again and is blocked again. Lombard uses a sweep, lands a few punches on the ground, and lets Shields up. Lombard blocks another takedown and swarms Shields with power punches. He drops Shields again but Shields locks up guard when Lombard goes to the ground. Not a lot happens on the ground for the remainder of the round. 10-8 Lombard.
Round 2. Lombard moves in with power punches. He lands a few big shots and then slams Shields down again. This time, Lombard ends up in side control where Shields can't threaten much. Shields immediately works himself into half guard. Shields then moves into full guard. The referee stands it up due to inactivity. On the feet, Shields looks to establish his jab. Shields then goes for a takedown but is stuffed. Shields lands a body kick and throws out a few jabs that miss. They clinch and Lombard takes Shields down with another judo throw. 10-9 Lombard.
Round 3. Lombard lands a punch to the body early. Lombard uses a trip takedown. After nothing happens, the referee stands them up. Shields goes for a takedown but is blocked and Lombard takes top position. Nothing happens again and they are stood up again. Shields grabs a guillotine and it looks pretty tight but time runs out. 10-9 Lombard, 30-26 Lombard.
Winner: Hector Lombard, unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27).
Alex Garcia vs. Sean Spencer
Garcia is a highly regarded prospect from the Tristar Gym in Montreal, the home of all time great Georges St. Pierre. He scored a first minute knockout in his UFC debut. Spencer is a 2-1 UFC fighter who trains out of the Dallas area.
Round 1. Garcia scores an early takedown but is unable to do much in the way of damage against the cage. They return to the feet. Spencer looks to establish his jab while Garcia lands a couple of unorthodox kicks. Garcia lands another takedown. Spencer gets up quickly but eats a few punches on the ground and a couple hard uppercuts as they are separating. 10-9 Garcia.
Round 2. Garcia lands a few nice punches from different angles to begin the round. Garcia gets another takedown 90 seconds in but once more Spencer stands up near the cage. Spencer rocks Garcia with a really hard right punch and looks to finish near the cage. Spencer moves in but Garcia counters with power punches of his own and rocks Spencer. Spencer falls to the ground and Garcia looks to close. Spencer is able to survive in an incredible sequence. Spencer was very close to finishing Garcia and only moments later Garcia was very close to finishing Spencer. It was reminiscent of a famous fight between Pete Sell and Scott Smith years back. Garcia gets another takedown with a minute left in the round. Spencer gets up and lands a few hard punches on Garcia as the round comes to a close. Spencer even throws a flying knee as the round concludes. That was a phenomenal round. 10-9 Garcia.
Round 3. Garcia lands a pair of nice hooks early. Garcia shoots for another takedown and Spencer goes down once more. This time, Spencer isn't able to quickly stand back up. Garcia gets him down in the middle of the cage and drops down some punches. Spencer is then able to get back up again. Garcia gets another takedown and Spencer again gets up. Garcia goes for another takedown and Spencer finally blocks it. Spencer moves forward with a few punches but time runs out. 10-9 Garcia, 30-27 Garcia.
Winner: Alex Garcia, split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27).
Dennis Bermudez vs. Jimy Hettes
Bermudez is slowly building himself into a featherweight contender, having won five straight fights in the UFC and often delivering exciting performances. He comes from a wrestling background but often slugs it out. Hettes has a judo background and a highly advanced ground game. However, he has shown some vulnerability in the standup. He comes into this fight with an 11-1 MMA record and is 3-1 in the UFC.
Round 1. Bermudez connects with a solid overhand right to start the fight. Hettes clinches and they grapple for position by the cage. Bermudez lands a trip takedown and hits Hettes with a few punches before Hettes gets back up. Hettes lands a nice hook and knee back on the feet. Bermudez takes Hettes down but again Hettes gets up. Bermudez then slams Hettes down again and Hettes gets up again. And once more Bermudez takes Hettes down only for Hettes to get back up. They exchange punches in the clinch and Bermudez gets another takedown. This time Hettes can't get right back up and he elects to control Bermudez with full guard from the bottom. Hettes gets up late but Bermudez tries to secure a guillotine choke as the round comes to a close. 10-9 Bermudez.
Round 2. They clinch again and look to secure dominant position. Bermudez gets Hettes down briefly and lands a few punches before Hettes gets up. As Hettes gets up, he eats a big knee. Bermudez follows with additional punches and Hettes spits out his mouthpiece. Bermudez looks to close on the ground. Hettes is finally able to get back up but Bermudez takes him down again. They scramble for position and Hettes briefly has Bermudez's back. Bermudez tries to throw Hettes and Hettes uses the opportunity to sink in his hooks on the ground. Hettes looks for a rear naked choke late in the round. Time runs out. Hettes' surge at the end saved him from a 10-8 round. 10-9 Bermudez.
Round 3. They return to the familiar clinch by the cage before separating. Bermudez drops Hettes with a punch and Hettes grimaces on the ground. Bermudez follows and drops down punches looking to close. Hettes defends well and Bermudez finally elects to let him stand back up. Hettes is staggered and he falls to the ground on a body punch. Hettes doesn't have his legs and goes down from another shot. The referee finally calls it off.
Winner: Dennis Bermudez, TKO, round 3.
Jessica Andrade vs. Raquel Pennington
Andrade has a lot of buzz in the women's bantamweight division coming off a dominant win over Rosi Sexton. Pennington made it to the semifinals of the Ultimate Fighter in late 2013 and then won her most recent bout over Roxanne Modafferi.
Round 1. Pennington stands upright and looks to establish her jab as the bigger woman. Andrade closes distance and clinches by the cage. Andrade gets the takedown two minutes in. Pennington stands back up. Andrade uses a nice judo throw to take Pennington back down. Pennington goes for an armbar from the bottom but Andrade pops her arm out and grabs a guillotine choke. She loses it and they return to the feet. Andrade throws Pennington down and Pennington gets up again to close the round. 10-9 Andrade.
Round 2. They clinch and Pennington connects with some hard knees. Andrade backs up and hits Pennington with a few punches. Andrade shoots and gets the takedown. Pennington stands up. Andrade pushes forward with some looping punches. Pennington grabs the plum and lands some more knees to the body, her best weapon to this point. They trade wild punches from close distance, with each connecting solidly on the chin of the other. Andrade continues to press the action while Pennington counters. This has been an entertaining fight on a night with a series of entertaining fights. Pennington grabs a guillotine choke from the standing position and cranks it hard. Andrade is able to slip out and go for a guillotine choke or her own at the very end. 10-9 Pennington.
Round 3. Andrade once again is the aggressor, moving in with punches. Pennington counters well, landing the best punches of the early going. Andrade answers with some solid hooks of her own and Pennington backs out. They seem to alternate getting the better of the standup, as Pennington connects better in one exchange only to have Andrade lands the better shots in the next exchange. Pennington then goes back on the offense with some punches and more hard knees to the body. Continuing the trend, Andrade lands the best punches of the next exchange but then Pennington slams her down to the mat. Andrade gets up and Pennington lands a few hard punches to close the fight. 10-9 Pennington, 29-28 Pennington.
Winner: Jessica Andrade, split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28).
Kelvin Gastelum vs. Rick Story
Gastelum generated a lot of buzz off his time on the Ultimate Fighter. He looked good throughout the show and then upset heavy favorite Uriah Hall in the finals. He followed that up with a first round submission win in his 170 pound debut. Story, a grinder who has been in with many of the welterweight division's best fighters and holds wins over Johny Hendricks, Jake Ellenberger and Thiago Alves, will present a formidable challenge for the 22 year old rising star.
Round 1. Gastelum starts the fight by establishing a hard jab. Story moves in with a nice punch to the body. Gastelum lands a few solid straight punches and opens a cut on the side of the face of Story. It's not in a bad position at all. Gastelum backs Story up with a left punch and then drops him with a head kick. Gastelum pursues to the ground but Story grabs a body lock and stalls to regain his composure. Gastelum passes into side control and then briefly takes Story's back. Story gets out of danger and returns to his feet. Gastelum hammers Story with a hard left punch. The round mercifully comes to an end for Story. 10-8 Gastelum.
Round 2. Story charges in with looping punches to start the round. He lands a nice punch in the midst of his second combination. That has always been Story's primary attacking method on the feet, but he usually uses it to set up clinches or takedowns. Gastelum answers with more of his straight punches and briefly stuns Story. Gastelum's offense is much more straight forward while Story prefers hooks and looping punches. Story eats another hard left punch, Gastelum's best weapon throughout the fight. Story hurts Gastelum with a left counter hook and swarms on him with big power punches. He drops Gastelum by the cage and looks to close. Luckily for Gastelum, it is late in the round and time expires. 10-9 Story.
Round 3. Both fighters look to establish their jab early in the third round. Story goes for a takedown 90 seconds in and Gastelum blocks it. Gastelum lands a few elbows by the cage ala Travis Browne and they separate. Gastelum stuns Story with a few punches and then takes Story down. Gastelum tries to take Story's back but loses it and Story takes top position. Story then sinks in his hook and does take Gastelum's back. Story tries to lock up a rear naked choke. He can't get it and Gastelum gets up. They return to their feet. Gastelum moves in with punches and connects solidly. They exchange punches to end the round. 10-9 Gastelum, 29-27 Gastelum.
Winner: Kelvin Gastelum, split decision (30-27, 28-29, 29-28).
Ovince St. Preux vs. Nikita Krylov
OSP was a college football player at the University of Tennessee who came over to the UFC after a successful stint in Strikeforce. He is 2-0 in the UFC and has won 11 of 12 overall. Krylov had an ignominious UFC debut where both he and opponent Soa Palelei badly gassed. But he followed that up with a 25 second TKO win. So it has been quite the rollercoaster ride for the first Ukrainian fighter in the UFC.
Round 1. OSP catches a kick and scores a takedown. He quickly works his way into side control position. Krylov holds onto OSP's neck but he can't do anything with it from side control on the bottom. And OSP uses that to apply the Von Flue choke and chokes Krylov unconscious. Krylov set that hold up by holding onto a submission that had no chance of working.
Winner: Ovince St. Preux, submission, round 1.
Follow on Twitter at @ToddMartinMMA.
ALSO:Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times