The next pay-per-view event for the Ultimate Fighting Championship – UFC 181 – is scheduled for December 6, 2014, at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.
UFC 181 will feature two title fights: a rematch for the Welterweight Title between Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler, and a Lightweight Title fight between Anthony Pettis and Gilbert Melendez. There are three other fights on the UFC 181 main card and six preliminary battles. Let’s take a closer look at the main events.
Hendricks vs. Lawler:
On March 15, Hendricks beat Lawler in a unanimous decision to take the Welterweight Title (which was vacant at the time). Hendricks is 16-2 overall and has won seven of his last eight fights, though he has not fought since out-pointing Lawler. He lost a split decision for the Welterweight Championship against Georges St. Pierre last November.
Hendricks isn’t overly flashy and doesn’t tend to finish fights. Only two of his last seven matches have not gone the distance (first round knockouts over Jon Fitch and Martin Kampmann, respectively). His first career loss came against Rick Story in a unanimous decision in 2010 during the Ultimate Fighter 12 Finale.
When Lawler fell to Hendricks, his career record dropped to 22-10. Unlike Hendricks, Lawler has been busy since their last bout, knowing that he needed to string together some victories in order to get another title shot. In May, Lawler kneed and elbowed his way to a TKO of Jake Ellenberger. He then won a unanimous decision over Matt Brown (who missed the 172.5 weight requirement) in July.
Against Hendricks, Lawler, as ever, will rely on his heavy hands. (Lawler has 19 career knockout and TKO wins.) While Lawler also has a decent wrestling pedigree, he lacks a stable defense on the ground; of Lawler’s ten career losses, five have come by submission.Fortunately for Lawler, Hendricks only has one career submission victory. (He forced Richard Gamble to tap via D’arce choke back in 2008.) Hendricks may be the best wrestler in the Welterweight division now that GSP has moved on, though.
Hendricks is -225 to hang onto the belt; Lawler is +175 to dethrone the champ.
Pettis vs. Melendez:
Anthony Pettis captured the Lightweight Title in August by forcing Benson Henderson to tap via armbar. Pettis has won four straight, and the last three have all ended in the first round. He is 17-2 overall and hasn’t lost since falling to Clay Guida in The Ultimate Fighter 13 Finale in 2011. His last fight was a TKO over Donald Cerrone in January.
Pettis’ opponent, Gilbert Melendez, earned his title shot by defeating Diego Sanchez via unanimous decision 13 months ago. The victory upped his record to 22-3. Prior to that, he lost his first shot at the Lightweight Title in a split decision to Benson Henderson in April 2013. Melendez has good power for a Lightweight, posting 11 career knockout/TKO wins. However, his last KO was back in 2011 and his last four fights have all gone the distance.
Melendez is around a +180 underdog at the moment; Pettis is hovering around -225 to keep the title.
The rest of the main card:
Also on the main card, Travis Browne will fight Brendan Schaub with both looking to bounce back after losses. Browne is 16-2-1 and fell to Fabricio Werdum in a decision in April. Schaub, who stands at 10-4, lost a split decision against Andrei Arlovski in June. Browne is -300, Schaub is +250.
The ladies will get some Pay-Per-View time at UFC 181 as former boxer Holly Holm looks to stay undefeated when she takes on Raquel Pennington. No odds are available for that bout, though.
To round out the main card, Tony Ferguson, winner of three straight, will battle Abel Trujillo. Ferguson is a -260 favorite, while Trujillo is around +215 to pull the upset.
The undercard features a lot more fight action, including fan-favorite Urijah Faber squaring off with Francisco Rivera, and Anthony Pettis’ younger brother, Sergio, taking on Matt Hobar.
Urijah Faber (-410) vs. Francisco Rivera (+350)
Eddie Gordon (-180) vs. Josh Samman (+150)
Todd Duffee (-275) vs. Anthony Hamilton (+250)
Sergio Pettis (-300) vs. Matt Hobar (+250)
Alex White (-160) vs. Clay Collard (+140)
Enjoy the action, fight fans!
(Photo credit: Marianamizzle (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons