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UFC 171 fight card primer: Johny Hendricks vs Robbie Lawler

Bloody Elbow presents a preview of UFC 171: Hendricks vs. Lawler in our fight card primer series. Here we look at the main event: Johny Hendricks vs. Robbie Lawler for the vacant UFC Welterweight championship, live on PPV.

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

In the main event at UFC 171: Hendricks vs. Lawler, Johny Hendricks (15-2 MMA; 10-2 UFC) faces Robbie Lawler (22-9(1) MMA; 7-3 UFC) for the vacant UFC Welterweight title. This five round world title fight headlines the five fight UFC 171 PPV main card. The UFC Rankings have Hendricks as the #1 contender at 170, with Lawler just a bit below him at #3. UFC 171: Hendricks vs. Lawler airs this Saturday, March 15 with a fight time of 10:00 p.m. ET / 7:00 p.m. PT for the PPV main card.

It's been an interesting past few years in the UFC Welterweight division, to say the least. After years of Georges St. Pierre ruling over the division, his injury layoff, return, and then retirement has thrown everything off for some time. Now, the division looks to regain a bit of stability by crowning a champion. The interesting thing here is that "will GSP return?" remains a key question for the division - and there's just not much Lawler and Hendricks can do about that. But their potential FOTY coming up could certainly help give the division some much needed post-GSP identity.

How do these two stack up?

Hendricks: 30 years old | 5'9" | 71" reach
Lawler: 31 years old | 5'11" | 74" reach

What have these two done recently?

Hendricks: L - Georges St. Pierre (SD) | W - Carlos Condit (UD) | W - Martin Kampmann (KO)
Lawler: W - Rory MacDonald (SD) | W - Bobby Voelker (KO) | W- Josh Koscheck (KO)

How did these two get here?

Johny Hendricks is hailed by many as the rightful UFC Welterweight champion. In his last fight, Hendricks took GSP to the very limit - something no one has done for over 6 years. The fact that Hendricks only lost via controversial decision, and that GSP promptly retired, has led many to unofficially crown Hendricks as champ. Saturday night, he looks to make that official. With his wrestling pedigree and incredible bomb of a KO punch, Hendricks has rolled through so many top end opponents. His 4 fight win streak of Fitch, Koscheck, Kampmann, Condit was incredible. If he keeps fighting like that, he could be the new dominant force at 170.

More Bloody Elbow coverage of UFC 171: Hendricks vs. Lawler

Ruthless Robbie Lawler is one of the most amazing MMA comeback stories in recent years. If he wins the belt here, change that to THE most amazing comeback story ever. After a 9 year UFC absence and ending his Strikeforce career on a 1-3 run, Lawler came back in a huge way last year. His 3 straight wins culminated in a huge upset over Rory MacDonald and have brought him to, at last, a UFC title shot. Another powerful striker, Lawler has become far more technical over the years, evolving and maturing into a crafty veteran. He'll look to complete this incredible story with a win tonight.

Why should you care?

These are two men who could end the fight at any instant, fighting for a vacant world title, and with serious redemption on the line for both men. My hopes are real high for this one, which has all the makings of a classic for the ages.