Why Johnny Hendricks vs. Robbie Lawler (UFC 171) Matters

The UFC welterweight spectrum was somewhat droll when GSP ruled the universe. Just being honest. The forlorn conclusion was always that GSP would manage to outwrestle his opponent at some point to score the decision.

St. Pierre’s last finish was back in 2009 and although he performed with excellence against his last 11 opponents the pay-per-view hype hasn’t matched the outcome; until his 12th fight against a game Johny Hendricks.

Hendricks lost a tough split decision over the champion however he won many more fans during the process. Executing a great stand up game plan displayed Hendricks’ brilliance and made many unsure of the validity of the loss.

With GSP taking a sabbatical from mixed martial arts, vacating his welterweight title, Hendricks now faces a spry veteran in Robbie Lawler. Lawler first entered the Octagon in 2002 and has faced MMA greats like Chris Lytle, Matt Lindland, Frank Trigg and Nick Diaz.

In his 13-year professional career, Lawler has won multiple titles across notable MMA promotions like EliteXC, and Icon Sport. After losing a unanimous decision to Larenz Larkin back in 2012, Lawler has been on a tear taking on 3 fights in 2013 and winning them all. Two wins were finishes over high-level opponents Josh Koscheck and Bobby Voelker with his last being a win over Rory MacDonald.

However, besides the excellent pedigree of both main event fighters this fight has a real soul; the exit of the current champion from mental fatigue and disappointment at the current drug testing procedures. 

The storyline gets even better with the pairing of these two fighters who have a plethora of worthy available opponents waiting in the wings. Other welterweights that will be up next include Jake Shields, Brad Tavares and Thales Leites all of which make for interesting style matchups for either winner.

With GSP now on the sideline the UFC welterweight spectrum has opened up to the possibilities. Although the UFC lost a star and major pay-per-view earner in GSP, the fans now see a division that was locked up in Montreal freed for the taking. 

I’m sure before GSP decides to return to competition the quest for the belt will fuel many great fights and hopefully spurn new pay-per-view stars. Rest assured if you like MMA you should watch as it begins to unfold tonight.

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