UFC 171 began with a quick and unusual submission victory for a rising light heavyweight, and ended with a long and memorable battle at welterweight, which saw Johny Hendricks earn the UFC title which he felt he won back in November.
In between, the action wasn’t quite as compelling — but saw several of the night’s favorites continue their rise.
The main event saw Hendricks brawling back-and-forth with Robbie Lawler, as the two squared off as “Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots” throughout much of the bout’s five rounds — each in their familiar southpaw stance. Lawler’s aggressive combination punching appeared to earn two rounds on each judges’ scorecards, but victory seemed carved out by the more varied attack from Hendricks. The former All-American wrestler scored takedowns and leg kicks, including the takedown which seemed to seal the win (and the belt) late in the fifth round.
The co-main event failed to develop past a promising and competitive first round. Former UFC Interim Welterweight Champion Carlos Condit, a minor betting favorite, fell to injury in his fight with rising star Tyron Woodley, wincing in pain after a Woodley takedown early in the second round. When the two scrambled to their feet, Condit dropped clutching his right leg, after Woodley kicked his left leg. The referee was forced to call a halt to the action as Condit was unable to continue due to the injury.
In the other welterweight showcase, Hector Lombard was dominant in victory over Jake Shields, but his pace slowed as the bout wore on. After landing hard overhands and several picturesque judo sweeps and throws, Lombard seemed unable to mount any significant offense on the mat — and became less and less active in standup, as well. Still, it’s a quality win, and his move to welterweight is continuing to prove a success.
At lightweight, Myles Jury earned a lopsided decision over an over-matched Diego Sanchez, who was unable to lure the young prospect to a brawl. Jury was able to hurt and bloody Sanchez in the second and third rounds with effective straight punching, but never seemed close to a finish. True to form, Sanchez continued to try to move forward — albeit slowly — to the final bell.
The first fight of the evening saw Ovince St. Preux score a quick submission victory over Nikita Krylov in their light heavyweight clash. The finish came as Krylov made a critical mistake, hanging on tight to a guillotine choke attempt even as St. Preux pressed down on him in side control. Krylov positioned his shoulder pressure to catch Krylov in what’s called the “Jason Von Flue Choke,” named after the MMA fighter who introduced it into MMA lexicon back in 2006. Krylov fell asleep at 1:29 of round one.