UFC 171’s Johny Hendricks Had it “Two And Two” Heading Into Round Five, New Champ Says “It’s Not my Call” Regarding Next Opponent
Johny Hendricks may not scored a dominant, one sided win to secure the UFC Welterweight Championship, but the rising star certainly did so in memorable fashion. After outscoring Robbie Lawler in the opening two rounds, Hendricks was punished badly by the feared striker in round three, and likely dropped round four as well. In round five, however, Hendricks came out firing and entrenched his position as the UFC’s top 170’er.
“I saw it as two and two. I thought I got the first two rounds,” Hendricks relayed to FOX Sports 2’s post UFC 171 show. “Obviously, Robbie changed it up and I didn’t adapt fast enough to change the outcome of the third and fourth. I knew if I was going to win it had to be in the fifth.”
“That’s one of the greatest fights,” UFC President Dana White relayed. “Those guys stood in there and traded. I had it two-two going into the last round. In the fifth round it was Robbie’s fight to win or lose. He got caught and lost it. But I’d say there’s no loser in this fight – it was an awesome fight.”
In round three, Lawler not only wobbled Hendricks with a brutal series of punches, but he opened up a sizable cut over “Bigg Rigg’s” right eye.
“When it was cut, I think the middle of the third round, it was blurry and I couldn’t see out of it much. But you’ve got to adapt. If I wanted to win, I knew I had to do something to make it where it wouldn’t happen as much. I knew he was going to hit me and it was going to hurt, but I knew I could get some punches in return and that’s what I did.”
While Hendricks sealed the deal by taking Lawler to the mat, as the fight neared its end, the latter was largely able to negate the new champ’s renowned wrestling game.
“I was going to do more takedowns in the fight, and certain things happened where I couldn’t,” Hendricks told FOX Sports 2. “It is what it is. That’s when I said I had to change up my game plan. Instead of focusing on the takedowns and leaving myself open, I started punching and landing my own shots.”
Now it remains to be seen who Hendricks will fight in his first title defense. UFC 171 was in many respects set up to produce the next #1 contender, but after the card, things aren’t so clear. Tyron Woodley defeated perennial contender Carlos Condit, but since the stoppage win came as a result of a knee injury, it may not have been a title shot cinching performance.
Hector Lombard also cruised to a win over to the top ranked Jake Shields, but he was unable to finished the feared grappler. The UFC could look to Rory MacDonald, who is a teammate of former champ Georges St. Pierre, but for now Hendricks isn’t calling out anyone.
“It’s not my call,” said Hendricks. “The UFC picks my opponents. That’s who I’m going to fight. I want to beat number two, and if they’re hurt, I’ll face number three. That’s the way I want to keep it going.”
UFC 171 was hosted by the American Airlines Arena in Dallas, Texas.