Dallas, TX, United States (4E Sports) – Johny Hendricks defeated Robbie Lawler via unanimous decision on Saturday’s UFC 171 at American Airlines Center to claim the vacant UFC welterweight title.
Judges Aladin Martinez, Mike Gonzales and Doug Crosby all scored the bout for Hendricks, 48-47.
Hendricks got off to fast start, jumping ahead of Lawler 2-0 on all three judges’ cards.
But Lawler, 31, landed a momentum-swinging left hand to the chin that stiffened Hendricks (16-2).
“Round three he hit me and at that moment I was like, ‘S—. I’ve got to fire back. If I don’t, he’s going to kill me,’ ” Hendricks said. “He’s a heavy-handed dude, obviously. Nobody has made me look like this.”
Lawler’s confidence rose as he headed into the fourth. He popped Hendricks with another counter left hand that opened a cut near his right eye.
Martinez and Gonzales awarded the third and fourth rounds to Lawler (22-10).
In the deciding fifth round, Hendricks landed a left to Lawler’s chin that finally seemed to hurt him.
The volume of Hendricks’ leg kicks also started to add up.
By the final minute, Hendricks finally landed that elusive takedown to seal the win.
“I had to come back in the fifth round,” Hendrick said.