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UFC 171 Preview: Hendricks Vs. Lawler

UFC 171 previewAs I mentioned, in 2014, we’re going to keep track of our picks for most of the UFC main card fights. In addition to the FGB crew, included in our picks will be John LaRocca, president of Premier Wrestling, Heidi Fang from MMA Fight Corner, and Alex Goff from Online World Of Wrestling.

(For the first time in years, Big D wanted to share his picks.)

Here’s how we’re doing so far:

Duan: 17-1
GG: 16-2
Heidi: 15-3
John: 14-4
Jim: 13-5
Alan: 12-6
Alex: 11-7

Here’s our UFC 171 preview:

Ovince St. Preux vs. Nikita Krylov

Duan: Ovince St. Preux
Alan: Nikita Krylov
John: Ovince St. Preux
Heidi: Nikita Krylov
Alex: Ovince St. Preux
Big D: Ovince St. Preux
Jim: Ovince St. Preux
GG: Ovince St. Preux

Jake Shields vs. Hector Lombard

Duan: Jake Shields
Alan: Hector Lombard
John: Hector Lombard
Heidi: Hector Lombard
Alex: Hector Lombard
Big D: Hector Lombard
Jim: Hector Lombard
GG: Jake Shields

Diego Sanchez vs. Myles Jury

Duan: Myles Jury
Alan: Diego Sanchez
John: Myles Jury
Heidi: Myles Jury
Alex: Diego Sanchez
Big D: Myles Jury
Jim: Myles Jury
GG: Myles Jury

Carlos Condit vs. Tyron Woodley

John: Carlos Condit via decision
Carlos Condit versus Tyron Woodley is an interesting fight. It’s the classic striker versus wrestler. This was a tough one for me to pick because Woodley has looked impressive. I believe that Condit’s experience will be too much for Woodley to overcome. I see Condit fighting on the outside and picking Woodley apart and winning by unanimous decision.

Heidi: Carlos Condit via decision
Former UFC interim welterweight champion Carlos Condit has long struggled against wrestlers and this has been the only part of his game that’s a gaping flaw. However, it’s a weakness that the Natural Born Killer is aware of and has worked on diligently since his losses to GSP and Hendricks. If he can defend against the takedown from the NCAA division I wrestler he’s about to face and keep the fight on the feet, Condit has all the tools to impose his will on Woodley. T-Wood is not to be underestimated though, as he’s scored two first round KO’s in the UFC, which is by no means an easy feat. But I’m going with Condit to win and put himself in line for a title shot.

Alex: Tyron Woodley via decision
I believe that Georges St-Pierre is the biggest star of this show. Carlos Condit in my eyes was always a talented fighter. Carlos wonderfully executed a game plan to defeat Nick Diaz then fought Georges St-Pierre in an incredible fight that made me look at his talent in a new way. His weakness is against wrestlers and I believe that Tyron Woodley has what it takes to beat Condit, by exploiting Carlos’ lack of takedown defense.

Duan: Carlos Condit
Alan: Carlos Condit
Big D: Tyron Woodley
Jim: Carlos Condit
GG: Carlos Condit

Johny Hendricks vs. Robbie Lawler

Duan: Johny Hendricks via 2nd round TKO
I have been a fan of Robbie Lawler for as long as I have been a fan of MMA, and I believe if he does capture his first UFC title on Saturday, it will be the MMA story of 2014 and one of the great stories in the sport’s history. Unfortunately, I just can’t see it happening.

When Strikeforce closed it’s doors, Lawler had lost three of his last four fights and his prospects looked bleak heading into the deeper talent pool of UFC. Two years in, a drop in weight, and a little bit of luck later, and there’s only one win separating him and the world championship. It has been a remarkable turnaround and an incredible run, but this is where it ends. In Hendricks, he faces someone that’s not only fresher and more durable, but also a guy that’s every bit as physical as he is and a superior wrestler as well.

Robbie tends to struggle when he can’t keep things standing. I’m expecting Hendricks to put him on his back, wear him down and eventually cause a stoppage. You give Lawler the puncher’s chance in any fight; if he had high end power at middleweight, at welter it’s other-worldly. If Johny doesn’t respect that, he could be in for shock. But as long as he has his mind on the job, I only see a Hendricks win.

Big D: Johnny Hendricks via 2nd round TKO
I’ve been behind Hendricks forever. He is the rightful UFC Welterweight Champion and to anybody who saw him batter Georges “Rush” St-Pierre with a clear head knows this to be true and sees this as his first title defense. Robbie is a guy who I’ve always liked, who’s been around forever and had lots of epic match-ups. But Hendricks is too young, too fast, and too strong. I hope we see more aggression and fire from Hendricks and most importantly – I want that post-fight promo where he tells GSP to stop being a pussy and to get his ass back in the cage. Of course, what would make this even better is if GSP was in the front row with two women – one on each side with the prettier one holding the UFC Welterweight Title. And he’s wearing sunglasses (indoors of course) while smiling then walking out during the main event, building to a ladder for both belts. But UFC isn’t THAT cool.

Jim: Johnny Hendricks via TKO (middle rounds)
The main event of UFC 171 for the vacant welterweight title feature two knockout punchers. Both have great power, can and have ended a fight with one punch, and both are aggressive fighters. This fight has the potential to be a real war. In my opinion, Lawler needs to avoid the big left from Hendricks. Hendricks can be a bit plodding at times so good footwork and closing the distance and getting back outside Hendricks’ range will be key for Lawler. Hendricks on the other hand should use his strong wrestling to work on taking Lawler to the ground and negating his punching power. Hendricks has good ground and pound and can put Lawler out from the top. My prediction is just that, Hendricks takes it to the ground and pounds Lawler out somewhere in the middle rounds.

GG: Johny Hendricks via decision
In my dream scenario, Lawler walks over to Hendricks and they discuss a gentleman’s agreement to keep the fight standing throughout. What a damn fight that would be. It’s also a fight in which Lawler has just as good of a chance as Hendricks, and probably better. But when you add the wrestling element to this fight, it heavily skews toward Hendricks. Maybe he wishes to have an exciting fight. Maybe he wishes to show that he can bang as well as Lawler. Maybe he wishes to win every bonus the UFC has. But I don’t think so. It’s too important a fight for Hendricks to not use his wrestling. I think he makes it ugly. And I think he wins the welterweight title.

Alan: Johny Hendricks
John: Johny Hendricks
Heidi: Johny Hendricks
Alex: Johny Hendricks
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