Hendricks vs. Lawler Predictions: How Hendricks' Weight Cut Affects the Fight

Nathan McCarterFeatured ColumnistMarch 15, 2014

Nov 16, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Johny Hendricks (blue gloves) looks on between rounds of his welterweight championship bout during UFC 167 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sp

Johny Hendricks brought a little bit of drama to the UFC on Friday afternoon at the UFC 171 weigh-ins.

When he stepped on the scale, the commission official reported that the title challenger was off weight at 171.5 pounds. Per unified rules, there is no one-pound allowance for title fights. Hendricks looked stunned, and the scramble was on to find out what would happen next.

As Hendricks went off to shed the extra pound-and-a-half, news broke out of Dallas that if he were unable to make weight, the main event would become a three-round affair with the title on the line for only Robbie Lawler, per MMA Junkie.

Thankfully, “Bigg Rigg” returned to make weight.

The fight is official: five rounds for the vacant UFC Welterweight Championship. Now the question is: How does Hendricks' weight cut affect the fight?

He has a wrestling background and is a grinder. The No. 1-ranked welterweight has looked good in his previous bouts—including his five-round battle with Georges St-Pierre.

Cardio was never an issue, and heading into a five-round fight against Lawler, it was thought that Hendricks would have the advantage. Now, perhaps Lawler does.

When a weight cut goes wrong, it affects the fighter. It draws him out. A hard cut has diminishing returns.

The possibility that the weight cut will adversely affect Hendricks at UFC 171 may cause Lawler to change his game plan. He may try to extend this fight into the championship rounds.

Hendricks' hard cut may have changed the perception of the fight. Truthfully, we won't know until the fight begins.

Both Hendricks and Lawler are heavy hitters. They will want to throw down, but hard shots thrown take a toll on one's cardio. The more Hendricks puts into his punches, takedowns and other offense, the more his gas tank will deplete. He may want to scale back his early offense to make sure he has enough for the late rounds.

But that was part of the problem against GSP last year. In January, Hendricks told Fighters Only that he only put 70 percent into his offense instead of 100 percent.

That 1.5 pounds of extra weight on Friday may have changed everything.

Lawler may not be the tactical foe that GSP was, but he will leave it all in the cage. He won't run, he won't back down, and it will take everything Hendricks has to defeat him. Lawler will come forward to push the pace. He will not lie back.

On Saturday at UFC 171, we will see how Hendricks' weight cut affects the fight. We will see what toll it took on his body and how he compensates for it in the cage.

That pound-and-a-half of extra weight made the main event a lot more interesting.