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UFC 181: Hendricks vs. Lawler - Pre-fight thoughts

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Tim B. takes a quick look at tonight's UFC 181 card and offers up some thoughts on how the night might progress.

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

UFC 181 is here. It's been a little while since a PPV was deep enough to merit my undivided attention, and this one makes the cut. Both of the title fights should be great and there are lot of other bouts on the card that look like they'll be action-packed, so I'm excited. With that in mind, I'm going to take a brief look at the biggest fights and offer up some basic predictions on the bonuses and such.

Can Robbie Lawler beat Johny Hendricks the second time around? While I was never the biggest Lawler fan throughout his career, his renaissance has been one of the best stories in MMA over the last couple of years and it's great that he's in this position. He's not a Conor McGregor type that talks a bunch of smack, he just quietly goes about his business and beats the crap out of people in the octagon. If there was anyone on this card I'd have a rooting interest in, it would probably be Lawler. Unfortunately, I think a Johny Hendricks at 100% will be too much for him.

Anthony Pettis is finally stepping back into the octagon, and most fans are very excited about that. Me? I'm more excited that Gilbert Melendez is finally back. I've long felt that he's one of the most underrated fighters in MMA and thought he beat Ben Henderson last year. Pettis is obviously flashy and exciting, and he has a skill set that sometimes gets overshadowed by his striking brilliance. But I believe that Melendez can and will make this a dogfight and he's not going to get run over by the Showtime train. He's too good for that to happen.

Travis Browne vs. Brendan Schaub has the potential to be awesome (if someone gets knocked out quickly) or really ugly (if Browne plays Schaub's game and gets lulled into a hugging match). Here's hoping for the former.

I know he's the one that requested it and all that, but it's still weird to see Urijah Faber on the prelims. I suspect he won't have much trouble with Francisco Rivera, but Faber always puts on exciting fights and outside of the title fights, this is the bout I'm most looking forward to.

Overall, this card has the potential to be one of the most exciting events of the year and I'm hyped. Hopefully you are too.

Predictions

Fight of the Night: Alex White vs. Clay Collard

Performance bonuses: Urijah Faber and Travis Browne

Quickest finish: Corey Anderson

New champions: One (Gilbert Melendez)