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UFC 171: Johny Hendricks vs. Robbie Lawler Round-by-Round Recap and Analysis

Nathan McCarterFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 6, 2017

UFC 171: Johny Hendricks vs. Robbie Lawler Round-by-Round Recap and Analysis

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    UFC 171's main event is for the vacant UFC Welterweight Championship. No. 1-ranked Johny Hendricks and No. 3-ranked Robbie Lawler will throw down to see would walk away as the new king of the division on Saturday night.

    Hendricks' last trip to the cage saw him come up just short against Georges St-Pierre. When GSP walked away from the UFC, "Bigg Rigg" was first on the list to fight for the strap.

    Lawler earned his title shot by returning to the UFC's 170-pound division and scoring three straight wins. He knocked off Josh Koscheck, Bobby Voelker and Rory MacDonald.

    Hendricks and Lawler battled in one of the most fun welterweight title fights in memory. They stood in the pocket and exchanged. It was an exceptional fight with back-and-forth action. In the end, Hendricks was able to do just enough in the final frame to lay claim to the UFC Welterweight Championship.

    A fantastic fight between two elite welterweights. We could not have asked for more.

Round 1

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    Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sp

    A lot of back and forth action.

    Lawler looks light on his feet and very competitive. Hendricks throwing a lot of low leg kicks. Interesting gameplans playing out early.

    These two are not light on volume. Most of the strikes are being blocked or evaded, but all-in-all they are throwing down. Hendricks is getting the better of the exchanges altogether. Close round. Tight round.

    Bleacher Report scores the round 10-9 Hendricks.

Round 2

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    Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sp

    Hendricks back to the leg kicks. Lawler isn't able to get off as many strikes in this round.

    Hendricks is turning up the volume, but he's not putting 100% power behind the shots. Is he doing that to conserve energy, or is he setting Lawler up for the big shot later?

    Hendricks lands a good knee to the body. Hendricks putting together light combinations at the end of the round, and Lawler tags him with a punch at the horn. Close round, but not as close as the first. Hendricks landed more in the second. No question.

    Bleacher Report scores the round 10-9 Hendricks.

Round 3

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    Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

    More of the same early in the third.

    Hendricks eats a left from Lawler! Lawler has the No. 1-ranked welterweight hurt. Lawler starts to pour it on, but Hendricks is surviving. He looks very wobbly.

    Lawler is unable to put him again, and Hendricks rebounds. He is back in the fight, but Lawler was close to capturing gold. Hendricks is slowing down, and Lawler is able to connect with quite a few shots. Hendricks tries to resort to his wrestling, but Lawler easily defends.

    Lawler takes the third clearly. Hendricks does not look great. He is slow. This is looking like Lawler's fight.

    Bleacher Report scores the round 10-9 Lawler.

Round 4

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    Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

    Lawler comes right out and presses the issue on Hendricks' face.

    Hendricks' right eye is a mess. Lawler is connecting, and Hendricks is searching for a way to get back in this fight.

    Hendricks starts to fire back, but Lawler stifles the comeback attempt. Hendricks gets back to throwing the leg kick. Lawler with an uppercut, Hendricks with an uppercut! They are standing in the pocket and throwing. Neither are throwing the KO punches, but they are throwing in volume!

    Lawler starts going to the leg kicks. Hendricks' eye is awful looking. A lot of color coming from the eye. Hendricks scores a takedown with 10 seconds to go.

    Bleacher Report scores the round 10-9 Lawler.

Round 5

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    Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

    They get right back to the center of the cage. They start throwing more wildly, but nothing lands cleanly in the opening 45 seconds.

    Hendricks goes for a takedown and forces Lawler against the fence. Lawler defends brilliantly and avoids the canvas. The referee separates them after a minute of clinching against the fence.

    Lawler landing a left, but Hendricks lands a nice outside leg kick. Hendricks looks like the more exhausted of the two, but Lawler isn't able to put the same amount of power into his shots because of the leg kicks. They fire away! Hendricks stumbles Lawler!

    Good action from both fighters.

    90 seconds.

    Lawler is getting touched up now. Hendricks is landing much more. Lawler is rocked! Hendricks takes him down against the fence! One minute to go. He may have been able to finish Lawler, but he took him down. How do the judges see this fight? Was that smart or a big mistake? Wow. What a decision.

    Bleacher Report scores the round 10-9 Hendricks, and the fight 48-47 Hendricks.

    Official Result: Johny Hendricks defeats Robbie Lawler by unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 48-47)

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