Saturday, 27 December 2014

UFC 181: Lawler-MacDonald and five fights to make after a big weekend

Robbie Lawler set the record straight on Saturday by outpointing Johny Hendricks at UFC 181 to take the welterweight title, avenging his earlier loss to 'Big Rigg' in their March war.

'Ruthless' forced the pace early – perhaps trying to catch the judges’ attention – before a late rally of punches and front kicks helped him win by scores of 49-46 and 48-47 against 47-48.

Meanwhile, as Anthony Pettis submitted Gilbert Melendez with a guillotine choke in round two of their lightweight title fight, let’s take a look at six potential scraps which could happen after another weekend of action.

Robbie Lawler v Rory MacDonald

It’s incredible to think that, at 25, Rory MacDonald has already built a 9-2 record in the Octagon.

Now that his Tristar MMA team-mate Georges St. Pierre is out of the picture, it’s about time Rory got a title shot.

The British Columbia native lost to Lawler on the cards last year, but MacDonald has since dominated Tarec Saffiedine and Tyron Woodley, while his leg kicks are arguably the best in the 170lbs division.

Johny Hendricks v Tarec Saffiedine/Matt Brown

It’s incredible to think that, at 25, Rory MacDonald has already built a 9-2 record in the Octagon.

Now that his Tristar MMA team-mate Georges St. Pierre is out of the picture, it’s about time Rory got a title shot.

The British Columbia native lost to Lawler on the cards last year, but MacDonald has since dominated Tarec Saffiedine and Tyron Woodley, while his leg kicks are arguably the best in the 170lbs division.

Anthony Pettis v Khabib Nurmagomedov

After defeating Melendez, Donald Cerrone and Benson Henderson (twice), Pettis stands as the best lightweight on earth by quite some way.

However, Nurmagomedov rests at 5-0 in the UFC after displaying an explosive blend of throws, chokes and judo prowess. In his May 2013 decision over Abel Trujillo he completed 21 takedowns, while he recently told MMA Fighting that Pettis is “scared” to fight him.

'Showtime' told the same site he’d “never heard of” the Russian. Nice.

Eddie Alvarez v Gilbert Melendez

Staying on the 155bs scene, there are plenty of competitors ranked between Melendez, the No. 1 contender, and Eddie Alvarez, now standing at No. 11.

Now that both are finally competing on the biggest stage of them all – the UFC – this match-up could happen at the top half of a marquee card in 2015. Expect toe-to-toe action if these fan-favourites meet.

Tony Ferguson v Jim Miller

Tony Ferguson is another man making waves in the lightweight division.

At UFC 181 he stormed back in round two and submitted Trujillo – no mean feat – with a patient, well-executed rear naked choke.

Jim Miller is available and waiting, so that bout would make sense. The New Jersey fighter is versatile with unbreakable cardio, but at 5 foot 8 could he make room for his own strikes against the rangy, 6 foot Ferguson?

Travis Browne v Mark Hunt

Heavyweight 'Hapa' Browne returned to form on Saturday by stopping Brendan Schaub with punches from back mount in round one.

After breaking his left hand in defeat to Fabricio Werdum in April - also hurting his ribs and nose – the Glendale Fighting Club man cut off the cage with intent, using his reach and length to punish Schaub.

How about a battle with rejuvenated 40-year-old Hunt? Strikers’ paradise indeed.

By Alistair Hendrie

Originally posted on mirror.co.uk http://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/other-sports/mma/ufc-181-lawler-vs-macdonald-4767517

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