UFC 171 goes down this weekend in Dallas, Texas and we’ve got our predictions for all the nights fights for you below.
Johny Hendricks vs. Robbie Lawler
Two of the pound-for-pound hardest punchers in the sport match up in this battle to become Georges St.Pierre’s successor as the new welterweight champion of the world.
Lawler seems to have found a whole new lease of life after rejoining the UFC and moving down to 170lbs, and you can really see it in his striking which looks quicker and more dynamic than we’ve seen from in the past. Hendricks is a little bit more predictable as he looks to piston out that deadly left hand, and if it lands then that can spell the end of the fight.
While it’s difficult to split them in terms of pure striking, the picture is clearer when it comes to the ground game. While Lawler has solid takedown defense and a wrestling background, Hendricks is the all-round better wrestler and I’d expect him to have the edge from either the clinch or on the mat.
Even more than Hendricks, I believe Lawler has that ‘lightning in a bottle’ aura that gives you the sense he can finish the fight at any moment with one punch, but overall I feel Hendricks is going to be the more well-rounded fighter here, will have more in the tank in the championship rounds and may just be able to eek out a late stoppage victory here by going to the mat with ground and pound.
Johny Hendricks to win by TKO in Rd4.
Carlos Condit vs. Tyron Woodley
It’s not certain yet, but the winner of this fight (particularly if it’s Condit) could be the next in line at 170lbs to fight for the title.
Striking wise I’d give the edge to Condit overall here. While he doesn’t have as heavy hands as Woodley, he’s more technical, moves well, has a more diverse arsenal of weapons and can piece together crisp combinations of punches and kicks.
In general Condit is well rounded, though if he does have a weakness it’d be his wrestling, and that happens to be a strong suit for Woodley. Condit is crafty of his back though and will make life difficult for Woodley if he just wants to hold him down and keep him there.
It’s a tough one to call. My feeling is that Condit is the better overall fighter, but Woodley could exploit his achilles heel. Nevertheless, Condit’s high-tempo approach on the feet and ability to work back to his feet if taken down gives me enough reason to side with him here by decision.
Carlos Condit to win by decision.
Diego Sanchez vs. Myles Jury
There’s been a lot of talk pre-fight about Sanchez re-inventing himself into a more technical fighter, but we’ll have to see whether he can really curb his brawling instincts once the heat turns up in the octagon.
For his part, Jury will certainly be looking to stay technical, using accurate strikes from range to keep Sanchez at bay. Jury is also capable on the mat, but while he’s best known for his toe-to-toe brawls, Sanchez is also a good grappler and I think he’ll emerge on top in a ground battle.
I think there’s a good chance we still see Sanchez eating a fair amount of shots in the stand-up as Jury proves to be a bit slicker on the feet, but Sanchez’s unrelenting pressure and strategic switch to mixing things up more with grappling will swing the fight in his favor when it comes to the scorecards.
Diego Sanchez to win by decision.
Jake Shields vs. Hector Lombard
The gameplan for both fighters here couldn’t be more clear, with Shields undoubtedly set to be looking to get the fight to the ground early and often, while Lombard will gladly keep it standing at all costs.
On the ground Shields is most fighters (and some fans) worst nightmare with his stifling approach to wrestling that relies far more on control than attempting to produce damage or finish the fight. His takedowns aren’t the best around though, and Lombard is exceptionally strong and his background in Judo makes him tough to get on his back.
That’s a real concern for Shields as frankly his striking is nowhere near the level of his ground work. On the other hand, Lombard hits hard and when he smells blood he possesses the killer instinct. If Shields can’t keep him down for the full three rounds, and I don’t think he can – then in my opinion it’s only a matter of time before Lombard finishes him.
Hector Lombard to win by KO in Rd2.
Ovince St. Preux vs. Nikita Krylov
It’s hard to know what to make of Krylov at this stage after a dreadful debut at heavyweight and then a swift stoppage victory next time out before announcing a move down to light-heavyweight.
St. Preux is more of a known quantity after a long stint in the Strikeforce organization before notching up two wins inside the Octagon to boot.
He’s a good striker, has superior cardio and won’t be easily taken down, which leads me to believe he can get the better of his opponent and potentially earn himself a late finish here.
Ovince St. Preux to win by TKO in Rd3.
Prelims: (Predicted winners in bold)
Kevin Gastelum vs. Rick Story
Raquel Pennington vs. Jessica Andrade
Dennis Bermudez vs. Jimy Hettes
Sean Spencer vs. Alex Garcia
Renee Forte vs. Frank Trevino
Will Campuzano vs. Justin Scoggins
Robert McDaniel vs. Sean Strickland
Daniel Pineda vs. Robert Whiteford