UFC 171 goes down tomorrow night in Dallas, Texas and features a main event that will crown a new welterweight champion, and below are all the fight previews and predictions for the main show. The card is stacked with heavy hitters and promises to be a milestone pay per view for the Ultimate Fighting Championship and the sport of Mixed Martial Arts in general.
Main Event – UFC Welterweight Championship (170lbs) – “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler (22-9) vs Johny “Bigg Rigg” Hendricks (15-2)
This fight is hyped up to be a test of power, as Hendricks possesses a devastating left hand, and “devastating” is a massive understatement. The best example of his power was when he leveled longtime welterweight contender, Jon Fitch, knocking him out just 12 seconds into the fight back at UFC 141. He has also finished notables like Amir Sadollah, TJ Waldburger, and Martin Kampmann with strikes and left long-time welterweight champ, Georges St Pierre, looking like he got hit by a bus in his last fight.
That fight, which was inexplicably won by St Pierre via split decision, could have haunted Hendricks for the rest of his career, if not his life, but an interesting development occurred. After the bout, St Pierre seemed shaken, both from the fight itself and by personal issues that he alluded to in an interview with commentator Joe Rogan. The French-Canadian champ quickly declared he was stepping away from the sport for an indeterminate amount of time and thus vacating the title. Subsequently Dana White, UFC President, announced that Hendricks would get another title shot in the #1 contender’s home state of Texas. Hendricks seems destined to earn the strap, but standing in his way is long-time MMA veteran Lawler, who possesses incredible striking chops of his own.
Lawler made his debut for the promotion 12 years ago at UFC 37, which is shocking considering he is only 31-years-old. Lawler has had ups and downs in his career and has been considered an under-achiever in the sport, but he’s currently riding a tidal wave of success and looks more focused than ever knowing this might be his last shot at UFC gold. He is 3-0 since returning to the UFC and the welterweight division, his last victory a split decision over the wunderkind Rory MacDonald. Look for Lawler to goad Hendricks into trading bombs, keeping the fight on the feet in effort to out mash his opponent.
The smart money is on Hendricks to engage with strikes when he can, but to lock up the title by bringing the battle to the mat, as he is a master-wrestler and was a 4-time All-American and 2-time national champion at Oklahoma State. The prediction though goes against the smart money, as Hendricks will win via TKO in the championship rounds after wearing Lawler down.
Welterweight fight (17olbs) – Carlos “The Natural Born Killer” Condit (29-7) vs Tyron “The Chosen One” Woodley (12-2)
Condit is a talented and versatile striker who is also the former UFC Interim Welterweight Champion. After winning the interim championship though, Condit was brought back down to Earth when St Pierre returned from an ACL injury to decision him, followed by Hendricks who did the same. Condit is weak against wrestlers, and he is matched up against an impressive one in Woodley.
Woodley looks like he is chiseled out of marble and is a giant as welterweights are concerned. Besides his wrestling talents, Woodley has hands, as his last two wins were KOs, including a Knock Out of the Night honor at UFC 167 against Josh Koscheck. Woodley will look to man-handle Condit, and should find success doing so, but the prediction is Condit will score a unanimous decision with improved take-down defense and quick strikes on his way to another UFC welterweight title shot.
Lightweight fight (155lbs) – Myles “Fury” Jury (13-0) vs Diego “The Dream” Sanchez (24-6)
Diego Sanchez, formerly “The Nightmare” but now “The Dream,” still fights like a wild demon, and fans are sure to see him eat as many haymakers as he dishes out. He was the first Ultimate Fighter winner and has seven Fight of the Night honors and three Fight of the Year notches, which is amazing. The guy is huge on heart, has an iron chin, and a warrior’s mentality. With all that being said, he has lost two of his last three matches, and the one that he won versus Takanori Gomi via split decision he probably should not have. He is also matched up against an under-the-radar title-contender in the undefeated Miles Jury.
Jury has an interesting back-story. After suffering an ACL injury, Jury was selling his clothes back to stores to put together enough money to eat. He eventually rehabbed, turned his career around, and is 4-0 in the UFC thus far and will look to remain perfect against Sanchez. Jury will use his impressive technique to survive the onslaught of Sanchez and out-point him on his way to a unanimous decision victory.
Welterweight fight (170lbs) – Hector “Lightning” Lombard (33-4-1) vs Jake Shields (29-6-1)
Lombard is a beast who throws heavy punches with bad intentions. He has a 6-second knock out to his credit against Jay Silva in Bellator, and is a former Middleweight Champion for that promotion. He is scary and dangerous and will be looking to take Shields’ head off quickly.
Shields though is no slouch. The biggest criticism of him is that he’s boring watch, but he is a boring winner who holds victories over Condit, Woodley, and Lawler. He’s also one of the fighters on the long list of welterweights who has lost to St Pierre. He also lost his subsequent fight versus Jake Ellenberger via TKO, but his father passed away two weeks before the match and he bravely chose to fight anyway. Look for the former Elite XC Welterweight and Strikeforce Middleweight Champion, Shields, to grind Lombard down to a unanimous decision victory that fans will grown about.
Light-Heavyweight fight (205lbs) – Ovince St. Preux (14-5) vs. Nikita “Al Capone” Krylov (16-3)
St Preux is 2-0 in his UFC career and 8-1 over his last nine fights in major promotions, while being firmly established in the division. Krylov, on the other hand, is making his debut at 205lbs, formerly a heavyweight fighter, and has taken this bout on short notice. He’s also only made it out of the first round one time in his professional MMA career, and so that combined with the previously mentioned factors shape up prediction to be that Krylov will be outclassed and outworked by St Preux, who will win via TKO in the third round of the opening fight of UFC 171.
Commentary By Matt Stinson