Walking down the tunnel after the end of the grueling match up of Lawler versus Hendricks, UFC President Dana White was hearing a common theme from the mouths of all the media, fans, and anyone in between: “that was one hell of a fight Dana, and one hell of a card.” The president smiled and carried on down the hallway as the American Airlines Center in Dallas dwindled down to few from over 19,000 in attendance that night. Barn burners, injuries, knockouts, and even rare submissions like the Von Flute choke were in full display in the American Airlines Center satisfying the hunger all UFC fans alike were craving to see out of this event in Dallas. Needless to say, this pay per view was a massive success in terms of quality of performance from each fighter, and deserves to be named atop the list of some of the greatest cards to go down in the organization’s history.
The welterweight division has not seen a different title holder in over 6 years. George St. Pierre’s stranglehold on the division was finally withdrawn when he decided to take a leave of absence and relinquish his title as welterweight champion. Johny Hendricks rightfully deserved another shot at gold, with many believing “Big Rig” had won his fight with Georges just four months before. Hendricks called Texas his home away from home, and coincidentally, ended up winning his first championship in front of a very favorable crowd in his old stomping grounds. Robbie Lawler was no push over for Johny, landing numerous big shots, and at least in two rounds, it seemed like he was going to finish off Hendricks but stalled to land the finishing touches. The duo traded heavy punches back and forth continuously with reckless abandon, leaving the fans on their tip toes in excitement. The UFC title fight set a record for most strikes landed in a title bout, and neither fighter are light on knockout power in their hands.. Trading fists of fury and exchanging quirky smiles, both Lawler and Hendricks may have tussled their way into consideration as one of the best welterweight title fights ever seen in the UFC.
The main event was complemented perfectly by the fights leading up to it. Sean Spencer and Alex Garcia wobbled and rocked each other for three highly entertaining rounds until the final bell rang. Ovince Saint Preux displayed another weapon in his arsenal, submitting Kryslov with a submission move very few casual fans have ever even heard of, a Von Flute choke. Dennis Bermudez continued his win streak in the featherweight division with is sixth straight win in the UFC and a performance of the night bonus. Hector Lombard thrashed longtime middleweight and welterweight contender, Jake Shields, improving his welterweight record to 2-0 since making the drop in weight from middleweight. Even the ladies put on a show in front of the Texas crowd as Jessica Andrade used her high level Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to control Raquel Pennington on the ground in the first and rode a brawling style in the final two frames to win it by split decision. Many were disheartened when co-main event welterweight contender, Carlos Condit, suffered a knee injury during a Tyrone Woodley takedown; for good measure Woodley kicked Condit’s knee, causing the fighter to collapse in what seemed to be agonizing pain. Coaches fear that Condit may have torn his meniscus and possibly his ACL.
The possibilities of potential fights for the UFC welterweight division is very intriguing and is a must to keep track of. Hector Lombard dominated a top contender in Shields was widely considered in the past as a top middleweight fighter in the world, and now potentially being a number one contender. Both Lombard and Tyrone Woodley called for a title fight with the new champ during the post fight press conference, and each have a very strong case of why they should. The UFC may also take a look at the young Canadian, Rory McDonald, as a possible opponent for Johny Hendricks. One dark horse name comes to mind and could possibly produce another threat to Hendricks is none other than Nick Diaz. Diaz spent the weigh ins on the sidelines, mocking the newly crowned champion and campaigning to get back into the ring. A decision soon is not expected as they move quickly to get ready for the “fight of the year” rematch in 2011 between Dan Henderson and Mauricio Rua this Saturday. Fireworks ignited the Dallas arena early in the prelims, and Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler completely blew the place away. With a possible fight of the year candidate and multiple fights worthy of a performance bonus, UFC 171 was everything it was thought out to be. One event down in Texas, with many more to come.
Commentary by Justin Huffman
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