UFC fans were treated to an exciting run of fights Saturday night. A few of the fighters in action scored impressive wins, but none was more impressive than the clutch performance from new UFC welterweight champion Johny "Bigg Rigg" Hendricks.
With all the momentum in "Ruthless" Robbie Lawler's favor heading into the fifth and final round, Hendricks dug deep, stunned Lawler and scored the takedowns that earned him the decision win and the title.
It was a gutsy showing from the long-suffering contender. After the bout was over, Hendricks spoke to ESPN's Todd Grisham about the win and the journey.
The fight was an instant classic, as USA Today's Marc Raimondi would attest:
Can't wait for UFC 171 to drop on Fight Pass. I want to watch Hendricks-Lawler over and over.— Marc Raimondi (@marc_raimondi) March 16, 2014
Whenever a fighter wins a bout like this, it only raises his or her appeal to the MMA community.
Here's a look at two other fighters who also represented themselves well on Saturday.
Don't listen to the talk that suggests Woodley's TKO win over Carlos Condit lacked substance because Condit injured his knee.
Condit was injured during a Woodley takedown and finished by a leg kick. Neither was a freak accident, and Woodley said during the pay-per-view broadcast that "it's all part of the process."
Woodley was not a Top 10 welterweight going into the fight (according to the UFC's official rankings), but scoring a win over the man ranked second at 170 pounds was a big deal.
There could be a case made that Woodley deserves the first shot at Hendricks. After all, he has strung three wins in a row together, and he just stopped the man who knocked out Rory MacDonald in 2010.
MacDonald is likely Woodley's stiffest competition for the No. 1 contender spot. We'll see what happens in the next few weeks.
In any case, Woodley announced his presence amongst 170-pounders loud and clear.
Diego Sanchez has a way of pulling fighters into his brawling style. The moment his opponents throw caution to the wind is the moment Sanchez is able to close the skills gap.
Jury didn't succumb to the temptation. He didn't shy away from exchanges, but he also didn't lose track of the game plan. He systematically took Sanchez apart by keeping him on his back.
Jury's wrestling skills and poise made him look like a real contender in the lightweight division. Of all the wins on Saturday's main card, Jury's was one of the cleanest.
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