Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler both rose through the welterweight ranks with help from their exceptional striking power.
"Bigg Rigg" stopped Martin Kampmann and Jon Fitch with his left hand en route to his recent shot at the 170-pound championship. Lawler, meanwhile, has scored two finishes in his three appearances since returning to the UFC roster.
The potential for a knockout exists from either side in this matchup.
At the same time, both fighters have excellent chins. Hendricks has never been stopped, and Lawler's only knockout loss came against Nick Diaz all the way back at UFC 47.
Despite Hendricks' power, Lawler is going to move forward, much like Carlos Condit did against the southpaw. In that matchup, Hendricks found himself backed up against the fence frequently, but he was regularly able to make Condit miss before taking the center of the Octagon.
In the opening round, Condit ran Hendricks into the fence with a combination. When "The Natural Born Killer" looked to capitalize with a left hook, he swung at air and was turned around by a collar tie from Hendricks. Once he had reversed positions, Hendricks took a step back and countered a Condit jab with a hard left hand.
Hendricks has been labeled by many as a striker who will just wing his left hand. If that's all there was to his striking, though, he would have suffered the same fate Josh Koscheck did against Georges St-Pierre. Instead, Hendricks landed on the welterweight legend regularly and arguably should have won.
Utilizing good head movement, Hendricks won't be an easy target for Lawler to hit, and he could have success counterstriking when Lawler gets wild.
Still, Lawler's striking can't be discounted. He utilizes kicks more effectively than Hendricks and, with flying knees also in his arsenal, is a more diverse stand-up fighter than the recent title challenger. With the amount of power he can generate in small spaces, Lawler is capable of handing Hendricks his first knockout loss.
Considering Hendricks, an NCAA champion wrestler, is probably going to be looking for takedowns frequently, Lawler's knees will be worth watching. It might not have been the blow that prompted the finish, but Lawler landed a nice knee on Josh Koscheck just before finishing Hendricks' fellow NCAA champion wrestler in his UFC return.
Any time the fighters are standing, both men will be in danger on Saturday. A very slight advantage goes to Hendricks due to his unblemished chin and ability to control opponents in the clinch. Again, though, either man has a real possibility of ending this when in an upright position.