With a memorable back-and-forth five-round battle for the vacant welterweight belt at UFC 171, Robbie Lawler and Johny Hendricks each took home an additional $50,000 for Fight of the Night honors. Hendricks ultimately won the unanimous decision, but had to put the exclamation point on the bout in the fifth round after Lawler had come storming back.
Judges scores the fight 48-47, 48-47, 48-47 for Hendricks.
Hendricks was the early aggressor in the bout, winning the first two rounds by mixing up his striking, going high and low and incorporating leg kicks. But just as he began to get control of the fight, Lawler scored a big third round by hurting Hendricks and putting him in jeopardy. There were a couple of occasions when it looked like Lawler might be on the verge of ending things, but his own fatigue -- along with Hendricks durable chin -- kept things going.
The fourth round was mostly Lawler's, who won the striking exchanges as each man stood in the pocket and swung through out. Hendricks did score a late takedown to make the round closer.
But it was the fifth round which decided the fight. Lawler came out with a sense of urgency, but it was Hendricks who caught him with a left hand around the two-minute mark, which turned things in his favor for good. The former Oklahoma State wrestler Hendricks would muster the strength to take Lawler down late in the fight, which all but sealed the deal.
Meanwhile, two Performance of the Night honors were handed out as well in Dallas. The first going to Ovince St. Preux, who turned a guillotine attempt from Nikita Krylov into a rare Von Flue choke, that left "Al Capone" Kyrlov unconscious. The other went to featherweight Dennis Bermudez, who turned in his most dominant performance against Jimy Hettes. Bermudez stormed Hettes early, and kept the pressure on him from 15 minutes both on the feet and on the canvas, earning a TKO victory. It was his sixth consecutive victory in the UFC.
Both Bermudez and St. Preux took home $50,000 apiece.
FOTN: Hendricks-Lawler. Bermudez and St. Preux get Performance of the Night.