It feels weird to type up a 2014 welterweight title fight that doesn't involve Georges St-Pierre (and isn't an interim bout), but here it is. Johny Hendricks, who came up short in a controversial decision against GSP at UFC 167, will fight Robbie Lawler at UFC 171 for the belt that GSP vacated earlier today to crown a new undisputed champion. There's an opening line out for what should be a great match-up between two of the hardest punchers in the division, and it favors "Bigg Rigg":
No surprises there. Note that the lines will shift over time as only one betting syndicate (BetOnline) has released its opening line.
Prior to the GSP loss, Hendricks had reeled off six straight wins, with the last four coming against (at the time) top 10 ranked opposition. His fearsome power was felt by Jon Fitch and Martin Kampmann, neither of whom stayed conscious enough to get past the 1 minute mark. Hendricks is a wrestler by trade, winning two national championships during his collegiate days at Oklahoma State.
Lawler's run towards a title shot has been nothing short of staggering. He finished his Strikeforce career having lost a clear decision to Lorenz Larkin at middleweight, and returned to the UFC at welterweight, where he hadn't competed since 2004. He KO'd Koscheck, then Bobby Voelker, and knocked down Rory MacDonald in the 3rd round to clinch an upset win on the main card of GSP/Hendricks.
If you're a fan of southpaw vs. southpaw violence then this fight is for you. Hendricks being favored is unsurprising considering he has a longer and more proven track record against the best of the best at 170 lbs, and arguably beat the consensus greatest welterweight of all-time. There's definitely some good value on Lawler, who is the most powerful puncher Hendricks has faced and possibly the better boxer. Hendricks has never been KO'd or even knocked down, but if anyone can crack Hendricks and his Franco Harris-esque beard, it's Lawler.
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