Robbie Lawler is the UFC’s new welterweight champion after another gruelling five round battle with Johny Hendricks that ended with the judges awarding him a split decision win.
The main event welterweight title fight is underway. Lawler with two jabs and a left. More strikes for him with some good knees to the body in there. Hendricks up against the cage taking these big shots early.
Hendricks moves, but Lawler follows and clinches with more good knees. All Lawler so far, but a very high tempo here – can he keep this going?
More knees and Hendricks works into a takedown opportunity, pushing Lawler against the cage. The action slows now as Hendricks slowly works towards this takedown, but Lawler is defending well. Lawler still landing knees to the midsection.
Hendricks ducks down and is really trying hard to get him to the mat, but Lawler defends while also trying to punch his opponents head.
Hendricks comes back to a more upright stance, but remains in the clinch. More knees from Lawler. They separate with Hendricks landing a punch.
Hendricks with some nice punches and a kick. A leg kick from Hendricks. Hendricks unloads a nice uppercut and a kick before getting in a takedown and this time he lands it. Nice work from the champion and he gets to end the round in a dominant position. Very interesting round.
Lawler with a left hand. Hendricks counters, but Lawler avoids. Another punch lands for Lawler and then he connects with a head kick, but Hendricks just eats it.
Hendricks looking for leg kicks, but Lawler lands one too. Jab connects nicely for Lawler. Lawler steps in with an elbow. Hendricks with a leg kick.
Right hook for Lawler. Hendricks with a nice combination with a hook landing and a kick. Another right-left comob for Hendricks. This is very much like the exciting action we saw in their first encounter.
Hendricks pressing Lawler up against the cage now and landing some hard knees to the thigh of his opponent. Lawler trying hard to fight of the takedown, but Hendricks won’t be denied this time. Lawler has his back against the cage though and is looking to stand. Hendricks manages to land a knee to the body from this position.
90 seconds of the round remaining. Lawler gets up and they get back to striking range. Front kick to the head lands for Lawler. Hendricks has a granite chin though. Hendricks misses with a knee to the body, but lands a punch and soon after a kick to the leg.
Right hand lands for Hendricks and a couple of kicks. Both men landing strikes now. Hard body kicks land for both men. Nice uppercut lands for Lawler.
Final seconds of the round and Hendricks is suddenly going for a guillotine choke and it looks tight, but the round ends and perhaps saves Lawler.
Hendricks comes forward and meets a front kick to the body from Lawler. Hendricks with punches and misses with a kick.
Lawler continues to use the front kick to the body a couple more times. Two punch combo and a kick behind it scores for Hendricks.
Soon after there’s another combination of the same kind from the champ. Right – left – kick comes again for him and it’s working well forcing Lawler to cover up rather than counter.
Another body kick for Lawler, but not much on it. Leg kick for Hendricks and he presses forward looking to land more, then decides to back off for a moment.
Clearly more volume from Hendricks in this round as Lawler is slowing down. Hendricks lands more hands. Suddenly he bursts in on a takedown and lands it in thte middle of the Octagon.
Lawler does well to scoot his legs out and stand, but Hendricks just pushes him over to the clinch and goes right into another takedown attempt. Lawler fending him off though, but with 20 seconds to go Hendricks does get him to the mat again. Strong round for the champion and Lawler needs to dig deep heading into the championship rounds.
Lawler lands the rangey jab. He tries a combination, but misses. Lawler with a leg kick and lands a nice left hand.
Another couple of punches to the face for Hendricks then he ducks in on the takedown and presses for the cage. Not much happening and the ref splits them apart.
Lawler comes forward, but there’s very little offensively happening for him and Hendricks is landing still with punches and the occasional leg kick.
Suddenly Lawler unleashes a head kick but it only grazes Hendricks head. Jabs landing for HEndricks now. Left hand and a left high kick behind it for Lawler.
Hendricks scores another takedown in the middle of the Octagon and again Lawler is able to get his legs out and stand.
They go toe-to-toe and Hendricks gets the better of it with a hard leg kick and punches. Hendricks down on his knees looking for a takedown, but Lawler stuffs it and lands some big elbows and punches as Hendricks just remains clung to his leg on his knees for the remaining few seconds of the round.
Hendricks lands with a right hand to start. Punches flying and in amongst it Lawler stops a takedown. Hendricks keeping busy and moves for the takedown attempt. He backs Lawler to the cage and it’s back to this grinding battle to see whether Lawler can stay upright or not. The ref urges them to work, but there’s not enough happening so he separates them.
Hendricks with a right hook. He lands another right. Lawler not letting his hands go. He lands a body kick.
Not a whole behind some of Hendricks punches, but he’s scoring points. Both men tired though. Hendricks lands a kick. Soon after he’s ducking in on his latest takedown attempt. He’s down on his knees working hard for it. He stands again and is doing nothing in particular so they get pulled apart.
Lawler feels out with punches and then gets caught with a left hand from Hendricks. Hendricks back to the takedown as the crowd grows impatient with his tactics. Lawler trying to make Hendricks pay with punches as he remains clung onto his leg on his knees.
Lawler hammering away at his head now as Hendricks remains in the same spot. Huge elbows coming from Lawler now and he’s shouting out with each shot – he’s fired up! He’s come to life and is now going all out for a finish.
He backs away, lets Hendricks get up and then goes crazy with punches, kicks and knees, leaving nothing in the tank in these final seconds. Hendricks in survival mode here, but despite this ultra-aggression from Lawler he can’t find the finish so we’re headed to the scorecards.
Lawler stalks Hendricks after the bell – his adrenaline is clearly running off the charts right now!
We’ve got a split decision ruling here! One judge sees it 48-47 for Lawler, another 47-48 for Hendricks. However, in a ruling that may prove controversial – the final judge sees it 49-46 in Lawler’s favor and so he is the UFC’s new welterweight champion capping off a remarkable story for the ‘Ruthless’ one.
There will definitely be some who believe that Hendricks grinding, wrestle and clinch-heavy approach should have won him the fight, but on the other hand Lawler did stuff many of his takedowns, landed the bigger shots and was never significantly hurt himself. One things for sure is that this decision will be debated for some time to come.