So, with the UFC 181 prelims over, we move to the ridiculously stacked main card, which will feature not one, but two title fights.
At welterweight, champion Johny Hendricks will take on Robbie Lawler, and at lightweight, champion Anthony Pettis will battle Gilbert Melendez.
Tony Ferguson vs. Abel Trujillo
Trujillo storms forward to begin the fight with a flurry. Ferguson defends, responds with some kicks. Ferguson gets floored with a right hand but gets back up. Ferguson eats a jab, and moments later, gets taken down briefly. Trujillo is just winging his shots. Ferguson attempts a kick but it’s countered with a beautifully timed takedown. Trujillo is chucking down hard shots but Ferguson works his way back to his feet. Ferguson is still firing hard punches and lands a couple of strikes. Trujillo lands a stiff jab Ferguson follows with a leg kick. Great round.
Round 2: Trujillo is still throwing thumping punches but Ferguson isn’t intimidated. Ferguson lands a good leg kick and Trujillo shoots in. Ferguson sprawls and takes Trujillo’s back. Ferguson dives, looking for an arm, but Trujillo works his way out. Ferguson drags Trujillo back down to the mat but not for long. After a scramble, and striking exchange, Ferguson pulls Trujillo down again. Ferguson works his way to Trujillo’s back and sinks in a rear-naked-choke. Trujillo has no choice but to tap. Impressive and gutsy win for Ferguson.
Tony Ferguson def. Abel Trujillo via submission (rear-naked-choke) R2, 4:19
Wow. Joe Rogan just announced that the UFC has signed pro-wrestler, CM Punk, to a multifight deal. Phillip Brooks, as he’s legally named, will make his debut next year.
Todd Duffee vs. Anthony Hamilton
Both heavyweights come out aggressively, but shortly into the scrap, Duffee cracks Hamilton with a right hand. Hamilton goes down hard and is finished off with a follow up shot. Huge return for Mr. Duffee.
Todd Duffee def. Anthony Hamilton via KO (punch) R1, 0:33
Travis Browne vs. Brendan Schaub
The heavyweights come out, throw a few feints, and scramble after Schaub misfires on a strike. Schaub lands a couple hard shots as he charges in. Schaub eats a jab. Not long after, Schaub shoots in and takes Browne down. “Hapa” scrambles back to his feet. Schaub charges in but takes an uppercut for his efforts. Browne has full mount briefly and is chucking down hammer fists. Browne is back in full mount and lands a huge shot from above. Schaub gives up his back and is taking a ton of punches. Schaub looks done. Fight’s stopped.
Travis Browne def. Brendan Schaub via TKO (punches) R1, 4:50
Anthony Pettis vs. Gilbert Melendez
Melendez rushes in and begins working a double leg. Pettis defends, fires a head kick, but the challenger blocks it and starts looking for another takedown. Melendez throws several shots as he works from the champ’s back along the cage. Pettis breaks free, but once again, Melendez charges in and this time takes Pettis down. Pettis is trying to get back up and does. “Showtime” throws a spinning back kick to the body, but Melendez keeps coming, and is looking for the takedown. Pettis lands a hard left hook. Melendez shoots in but no dice. The challenger fires a hook and starts looking for another takedown. Pettis blasts Melendez to the body with a kick. Round ends. Good round for Melendez.
Round 2: Melendez flurries but can’t get Pettis up against the fence. The champ blasts Melendez with a counter right but the latter keeps moving forward. Melendez is starting to wear the shots from Pettis. Melendez flurries along the cage. Pettis throws a front kick. Melendez charges in, takes a right, and gets caught in a guillotine. “El Nino” can’t work his way out and taps. Gritty performance from the champ.
Anthony Pettis def. Gilbert Melendez via submission (guillotine choke) R2, 1:53
Johny Hendricks vs. Robbie Lawler
Lawler comes out firing. He’s all over Hendricks with jabs and knees. Hendricks remains composed and fires back some shots of his own. Lawler with another knee from the Muay Thai clinch. Hendricks pushes Lawler to the cage. The champion is looking for a takedown and Lawler defends. Lawler lands another knee from the clinch. Hendricks still can’t take Lawler down. Lawler continues to fire knees into the champ’s body. Hendricks breaks away and throws a leg kick. Hendricks chucks another kick and then flurries. Hendricks follows up with a takedown. Round ends.
Round 2: Both men wing shots to begin the round. Lawler follows up with a head kick but it only grazes the champ. Hendricks continues to throw leg kicks. Lawler needs to start checking those kicks. Hendricks flurries, lands a few shots, and pushes Lawler to the cage. Hendricks is planting knees to Lawler’s quad, and then drags him to the mat. Lawler springs back to his feet, and plants a front kick to the face of Hendricks. The champ seems okay. Both men land strikes as the round nears it ends. Lawler slips to the mat and Hendricks goes for a choke, but the round ends.
Round 3: Lawler throws a front kick to the body of Hendricks, who returns with a leg kick. Hendricks throws a nice combo and finishes with a leg kick. Champ does so again. Hendricks is the much busier fighter, by throwing jabs, kicks, and left hands. Hendricks cracks Lawler with an overhand left. Not long after, Hendricks blasts in with a takedown and succeeds. Lawler works his way out back to his feet, but is pushed up against the cage. Hendricks takes “Ruthless” down once again.
Round 4: Hendricks continues to outscore Lawler with strikes. The champion bulldozes Lawler back into the cage. Referee Herb Dean breaks them apart. Lawler wings a head kick but it misses. Lawler eats a 1/2 from Hendricks. Lawler is moving forward, tries another head kick but it misses. Hendricks changes levels and takes Lawler down. The challenger works his way out, and starts pursuing Hendricks. The champion attempts a takedown but Lawler sprawls and starts throwing hard elbows and punches. Round ends.
Round 5: Both welterweights come out aggressively. Hendricks shoots in and pushes Lawler to the cage. Hendricks is kneeing Lawler to the legs but Dean breaks them up. Lawler throws a couple of kicks to the body. Lawler is pursuing Hendricks who shoots in once again. Lawler sprawls and starts punishing Hendricks to the body. Ref splits them up again. Hendricks drops down on Lawler’s leg again, and has him up against the fence. Lawler starts blasting Hendricks to the head with punches. The decorated wrestler continues to latch on to Lawler’s leg. Is now taking brutal elbows to the body. Lawler jumps up and is hunting for the finish; he plants a thumping body kick to the champ. Hendricks is a bloody mess but the round ends. What a crazy finish.
Lawler gets the split decision win. Wow. Perhaps a third fight isn’t far away?
Robbie Lawler def. Johny Hendricks via split decision (48-47, 47-48, 49-46)