After losing a razor-thin split decision to Georges St-Pierre last November, Johny Hendricks claimed the vacant UFC welterweight title on Saturday (March 15), defeating Robbie Lawler via unanimous decision at UFC 171.
Refusing to let history repeat itself, Hendricks sealed the victory in the final round with a series of straight lefts before scoring a double-leg takedown, as the fight came down to the wire in the back-and-forth affair.
All three judges awarded the victory to Johny with 48-47 scores across the board.
“It was an amazing fight. I had it 2-2 going into fifth round,” UFC president Dana White said. “I felt whoever won the fifth round would win the fight.”
The first two rounds of the fight were pretty even, but in the third, Lawler buckled Hendricks with a left to the chin. But, he managed to weather the storm and continue on. In the fourth, Lawler landed a big counter left that opened a cut under Hendricks’ right eye, which left him squinted through the remainder of the right.
The fifth, however, was Hendricks’ round. He opened by searching for a takedown. Midway through the round, he landed a left to Lawler’s chin that seemed to finally hurt him. From there, Hendricks unloaded leg kicks, before he scored a takedown that earned his victory.
Hendricks improved to 16-2, and becomes the seventh welterweight champion in UFC history, and the first new champ other than St-Pierre — who vacated the belt due to personal reasons in December — since 2006. Lawler’s record fell to 22-10.