UFC 171 Results: Grades for Every Main Card Fighter

Matthew Ryder@@matthewjryderFeatured ColumnistMarch 16, 2014

UFC 171 Results: Grades for Every Main Card Fighter

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    Matt Strasen/Associated Press

    For the first time since 2009, the UFC set up shop in Dallas on Saturday night, heading to the Lone Star State for UFC 171. With a collection of top welterweights all vying for position in the division—including a new champion in Johny Hendricksthings got hectic in a hurry once the broadcast hit pay-per-view.

    With that in mind, here are the grades for the fighters who took to the cage.

Ovince Saint Preux

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    Well, that was no joke.

    Saint Preux has always had the athletic gifts—he's an obvious physical specimen with a collegiate football pedigree to support his raw cage potential. At UFC 171, he showed just how far he's come, leaving Nikita Krylov unconscious with a modified Von Flue choke almost as quickly as the fight could hit the mat.

    It's hard to say how much improvement he would have shown had the fight gone longer, but when that's the most nitpicking one can do, you know he had a good night.

    Grade: A+

Nikita Krylov

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    David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

    One thing you can say for Krylov is that he doesn't clog up the card with long, dull fights. One way or another, his bouts are over quickly, even if he's on the wrong side of the ledger.

    The karate and submission ace struggled with Saint Preux's size and athleticism for how long the fight lasted—which is odd, considering Krylov had been a UFC heavyweight before this bout—and he ended up out cold in less than 90 seconds.

    Some think he's not ready for the bright lights of the UFC just yet, and this performance did almost nothing to undermine those rumblings.

    Grade: D-

Jake Shields

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    Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

    At UFC 171, Shields was going to go down one of two roads: wear Hector Lombard out and win a decision or fail to wear him out and suffer the consequences. He traveled the latter, but the consequences weren't nearly as dire as they could have been.

    He struggled in the first two rounds with Lombard's aggression and judo and had a hard time in striking exchanges as well. Lombard faded a little by the third but coasted to a decision thanks to his early work.

    Shields didn't look good on Saturday night, but he didn't look as bad as he could have either. He was more overmatched than anything, and that's not something he wanted when he was looking for one last shot at a world title.

    Grade: D+

Hector Lombard

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    Lombard did what many thought he would, rampaging Shields in the early going and then fading down the stretch to score a decision win. He had a chance to finish Shields early, when he was at his freshest and his opponent was simply trying to weather the storm, but the best Lombard could do was land some big throws and rough up the Californian.

    Still, this was an encouraging showing for "Lightning." His dubious gas tank is no secret, but it held up long enough for him to top a big name in the division and show some spurts along the way. He could be a dark-horse contender by the end of the year.

    Grade: B-

Diego Sanchez

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    Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Spor

    Crazy, unhinged aggression can account for a lot in MMA. It is, unfortunately, not a guaranteed means to a win. Sanchez was the case study for that fact once again in Dallas, fearlessly spilling blood and chasing Myles Jury around the cage but losing a spirited decision for his efforts.

    Everyone knew what Sanchez would try to do, and he did it, but he simply can't best the next generation of mixed martial artist without a stronger sense of game-planning. You have to appreciate his willingness to die for a W, but it often leaves him living with a loss.

    Grade: C-

Myles Jury

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    Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sport

    Jury approached his bout with Diego Sanchez as any thinking man would, by avoiding the slugfest and easily riding technical acumen to a decision win. He was the favorite going in because people were willing to bet on his ability to do that, and no one should have been surprised when he did.

    This was a classic showcase for an up-and-comer against a veteran who was tailor-made to make him look good. That's what happened, and Jury will probably see a bigger challenge next time out.

    Grade: B+

Tyron Woodley

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    Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sp

    At UFC 171, Woodley fought a lot more like the man who was a contender in Strikeforce than the man who was dropping people like a bad habit in his UFC run, focusing more on wrestling and top control than on meaningful engagement on the feet.

    He's an amazing athlete who has come into his own over the past year or so, but it's hard to justify him jumping to the front of contention on an uninspired injury TKO. Still, the way the UFC does its matchmaking these days, nothing can be ruled out.

    Grade: B-

Carlos Condit

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    Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

    Condit did what he usually does when faced against a wrestler; he accepted the fate of being routinely put on his back and relied on his crafty guard to make things interesting.

    When he was able to get things upright, he did well thanks to his diverse striking, and if he wasn't robbed of the final two rounds by a blown knee, he might be making his plans to fight for the title later this year.

    As it is, this is a loss and likely a prolonged spell on the shelf, but the performance is certainly incomplete.

    Grade: INC

Robbie Lawler

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    Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sp

    Lawler came to throw down in his first crack at a UFC title, which was a decade in the making. He did a good job of defusing the power of Johny Hendricks and defending takedowns for the most part, keeping things where he had the best chance to win.

    That said, he couldn't stop the one takedown that mattered came in the fifth round. The end result was Hendricks sealing a win and snatching the belt from Lawler's fingertips.

    Overall, "Ruthless gave a stellar performance in a fight that was as close as a fight could be. It just so happened that the American Top Team product came out on the wrong end of things, narrowly missing out on gold in the process.

    Grade: A-

Johny Hendricks

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    Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sp

    In his second straight bout for the welterweight title, Hendricks righted the wrongs of his November loss to Georges St-Pierre and secured his first reign at UFC 171. It wasn't without some guts and heart though, as Robbie Lawler pushed him to the limit in every way.

    When it came down to crunch time, with both men having won a pair of rounds and the first four minutes of the fifth running even, Hendricks forced the issue on a takedown to seal the decision and become champion.

    This solid performance showed his level of skill and fortitude as he now sits atop the 170-pound class of the UFC.

    Grade: A