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Dublin: 10°C Tuesday 20 April 2021
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Uncaged: Second chance saloon for Hendricks

Lawler will be in Hendricks’ sights in Texas tonight.

Image: Ryan Remiorz

A LOT OF fighters can claim to be on the wrong end of decisions throughout their careers but Johnny Hendricks loss against GSP was a genuine hard one to take.

It was only fair that when St. Pierre (semi) retired that it was Hendricks who was first in line to get a crack at the belt that he came within a whisker of taking and he gets that chance against Robbie Lawler in Texas tonight.

Their title bout tops the bill on a really solid card which boasts a night of top welterweight action as Carlos Condit and Tyron Woodley do battle with each man having an eye on the winner of the main event.

A trio of welterweight bouts begin with Jake Shields and Hector Lombard while the always exciting to watch Diego Sanchez has claimed to be finally in the right place mentally as he takes on Myles Jury.

Title dream so close

The determination to get his hands on the belt, even after coming out on the wrong side of a paper thin split decision defeat was extremely evident in the face and words of Johny Hendricks straight after that GSP fight.

Although he doesn’t initially get the chance at redemption by taking on St. Pierre again, that probably is a secondary thought for “Bigg Rigg” as his number one priority was always simply just to get his hands on that belt.

In his way stands a resurgent Robbie Lawler who has won his last three since his drop to welterweight and return to the UFC claiming wins over Josh Koscheck and an upset win over Rory MacDonald on the way.

Both men are known for possessing hands of stone but if they were to stand and trade it would probably be the power and chin of Hendricks that would prevail. Despite his upper body strength, Lawler would be behind in the wrestling and grappling stakes too.

 

Source: UFC - Ultimate Fighting Championship/YouTube

The fact that he came so close and the confidence he would have gained from his performance against GSP means “Bigg Rigg” is a red hot favourite for this bout. He is just about better on the feet but much better in the wrestling department so he is perfectly placed to get his hands on the belt that he has wished for so long.

Condit the epitome of perennial contender

Carlos Condit has long since been at the top end of the UFC’s welterweight division and despite holding the interim belt for a time the chance to get his hands on the undisputed gold has eluded him thus far.

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To his credit, he has never shirked a stern challenge or taken the easy way out and has fought the best the division has had to offer time and time again. On Saturday, with one eye still on a title shot, he faces up to the dangerous striker Tyron Woodley.

Woodley impressed last time out when he became the first man to finish Josh Koscheck as he displayed a solid chin before knocking “Kos” stiff. He hasn’t always been such an accomplished striker as he has 5 submissions on his record but his striking has improved markedly in his last few fights.

Source: Kojax uber/YouTube

Although Woodley does possess one punch KO power in his right hand, Condit is far too skilled and experienced to fall into that trap and he has much more to his all round game than “T-Wood” does.

Expect “The Natural Born Killer” to make another title statement with this performance.

Best if the rest

An impressive performance form either Jake Shields or Hector Lombard would surely put them in the picture for a future title shot. Shields is riding a two fight win-streak and is creeping back into title contention with some solid, if unspectacular performances.

Hector Lombard has been inconsistent since his switch to the UFC but looked impressive when knocking out Nate Marquardt in his welterweight debut last time out.

Shields is a master of neutralising his opponents and grinding out victories but at this weight Lombard potentially has the power to end this one quickly. From the neutral’s point of view, let’s hope this is the case.

Source: Brutha Muzone/YouTube

Diego Sanchez has always been one of the most watchable fighters in the UFC. Sanchez always has his heart firmly stitched on his bicep and no matter what, gives everything in all his fights.

Under his own admission, he hasn’t always been in the right frame of shape or mind in some of his previous fights but has out on a show nevertheless. He may not necessarily win against Myles Jury but one thing is guaranteed, it will be well worth tuning in to see what he does. Check out one of the best highlight reels in the sport.

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Brian Kirk

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