UFC 181: Title Fights to live up to Expectation


This weekend’s UFC 181 sees first title defences for both welterweight champion Johnny Hendricks and lightweight champ Anthony Pettis. Both are coming off long term injuries and will be desperate to solidify their standing as the premier fighters in their respective divisions.

Despite struggling early in his UFC career, losing a unanimous decision to Clay Guida and sneaking past Jeremy Stephens on a split decision, Anthony “Showtime “ Pettis finally got into his stride, stopping both Joe Lauzon and Donald Cerrone, before setting up a title shot against Benson Henderson at UFC 164.

Henderson’s transition from the WEC into the UFC was far smoother and very impressive. Two close decision victories over Frankie Edgar are the pick of the bunch but the list of beaten foes also includes Jim Miller, Nate Diaz, Clay Guida and Gilbert Melendez.

Of course Pettis and Henderson faced off previously and fans were hoping for a scrap similar to their five round WEC title battle back in 2010; when Pettis pulled an incredible “off-the-fence” head-kick to knock Henderson to the ground in the last round and secure the decision victory. Their rematch didn’t get out of the first round with Pettis submitting Henderson and taking a 2-0 lead in their head-to-head match-up.

Gilbert Melendez is first up for the lightweight title holder. “EL Ninó” is coming off a brutal and bloody three round war with Diego Sanchez. Despite losing a five round decision to Benson Henderson in 2013, Melendez has accounted for Josh Thompson (twice), Jorge Masvidal and Clay Guida in his MMA career thus far.

I’m expecting another stand-up brawl and I see this fight going the distance but with Pettis retaining his title by unanimous decision.

The Main Event: Hendricks-Lawler 2

Those of us who saw the epic first fight between these two will probably agree that the fight was decided by one takedown from Johny Hendricks in the 5th round. That fight is why we watch combat sports. We learned that both fighters can handle each other’s best shots and both respect the other’s power and technique.

After arguably being on the wrong end of the judge’s decision in his title challenge against GSP, It’s unlikely that Hendricks will want to take the fight to anther close call this time out. Now that his arm has recovered, expect him to shoot for at least one takedown in each round in a bid to build a comfortable decision and if a KO comes along the way, he’ll take it.

The problem with this approach is that Robbie Lawler will be expecting Hendricks to do the same. After working his way back into title contention with convincing wins over Jake Ellenberger and Matt Brown, expect “Ruthless” to be exactly that. Hendricks struggled to make weight for their first fight and it’ll be interesting to see how he has adapted his approach this time around. I have Lawler knocking-out Hendricks with a knee during an attempted takedown.


Owner/Editor of SevereMMA.com. Writer, Podcaster, Producer of 'Notorious: Conor McGregor' film, 'Conor McGregor: Notorious' TV series, 'Ten Thousand Hours', 'The Fighting Irish' and more documentary films.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.