Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler will battle for welterweight supremacy for the second time when the Ultimate Fighting Championship heads back to its home in Las Vegas for the UFC 181 card.
Here are my UFC 181 Predictions:
Johny Hendricks vs. Robbie Lawler (Welterweight Championship Fight)
The first fight between these two was tightly contested, but Hendricks (16-2-0, 8 KOs) emerged as the new UFC 170-pound champion. However, it is worth nothing that many the scored the fight 48-47 in Lawler’s favor.
Hard to call the decision a robbery though, since Hendricks landed 158 significant strikes while Lawler connected 150 times.
I expect the rematch between these two to be just as competitive.
Skill wise, both men have similar styles, and both are capable of putting anyone away with a single strike. Hendricks tends to do most of his damage with his lunging left hooks, while Lawler (24-10-0, 19 KOs) is pretty much capable of putting anyone away with both hands and legs.
This fight comes down to who wants it more come fight time, but it’s safe to say both men will be highly motivated to win this fight. Robbie feels he was robbed, while Hendricks will be looking to legitimize his champion status with his first successful title defense.
That means the fight really comes down to which fighter is sharper come fight time. Hendricks hasn’t fought since he traded shots with Lawler earlier in the year (due to a bicep injury), while Lawler has added Jake Ellenberger and Matt Brown to his list of victims.
Lawler has a lot of momentum right now, and that should pay dividends at UFC 181.
Prediction: Robbie Lawler wins via KO.
Anthony Pettis vs. Gilbert Melendez (Lightweight Championship Fight)
Pettis (17-2-0, 9 KOs) will look for his first successful title defense when he takes on Melendez (22-3-0, 11 KOs) on Dec. 6. Both men are talented strikers, with equally impressive grappling skills.
Pettis seems to be a step above everyone else when it comes to striking though.
He attacks with a diverse variety of orthodox and unorthodox strikes, and he actually lands the flashy stuff he throws. He finished Donald Cerrone with a vicious kick to the liver, and he almost broke Benson Henderson with the same kick, moments before capturing the UFC’s lightweight title with an armbar.
It’s hard to see any lightweight beating Pettis given how good he’s looked recently.
Prediction: Anthony Pettis wins via TKO.
Travis Browne vs. Brendan Schaub
Browne (16-2-1, 12 KOs) was a win away from a heavyweight title shot, but a loss to Fabricio Werdum sent him to the back of the line of contenders. Schaub (10-4-0, 7 KOs) lost a controversial decision to Andre Arlovski during his last outing, but it’s hard to feel bad for him given the fact neither man did much during the fight.
Browne is the bigger, rangier man heading into UFC 181, and he should be able to get the better of the striking exchanges. His grappling is also good enough to keep him safe from Schaub’s submissions.
This makes it Browne’s fight to lose.
Prediction: Travis Browne wins via decision.
Todd Duffee vs. Anthony Hamilton
Duffee (8-2-0, 8 KOs) looked good during his return to the Ultimate Fighting Championship, defeating Philip De Fries via first round TKO. Hamilton (13-3-0, 7 KOs) froze under the bright lights during his UFC debut, but he made it clear he belongs in the promotion with the performance he put on during his second outing.
Hamilton should be able to use his solid wrestling skills to grind Duffee down and eventually end the contest.
Prediction: Hamilton wins via TKO.
Tony Ferguson vs. Abel Trujillo
A serious “Fight of the Night” candidate, expect fireworks when these two meet inside the Octagon. Both men like to stand and bang, and neither man is a slouch in the grappling department. Both men throw a vast majority of their strikes with mean intentions.
Ferguson (16-3-0, 9 KOs) will enjoy a three-inch height advantage, as well as a six-inch reach advantage, so he might be able to jab his way to victory if he decides to play it safe.
I doubt that will be the case though. Ferguson is a fighter in the truest sense of the word, and even if he decided to go that route, an aggressive fighter like Trujillo (12-5-0, 5 KOs) wouldn’t give him space to work.
That shifts things in Trujillo’s favor.
Abel has serious power in his hands, and he can take a good shot as well. He should also have a slight advantage in the grappling department, so, in the rare scenario the fight goes the distance, a few takedowns here and there might end up being the difference maker, much like Danny Castillo was able to do.
It’s hard to see the judges deciding this one though. Katsunori Kikuno was able to land some hard shots early during his encounter with Ferguson, and I expect Trujillo to take advantage of the holes in “El Cucy’s” defense at some point.
Prediction: Abel Trujillo wins via KO.
Remaining UFC 181 predictions:
Francisco Rivera defeats Urijah Faber via KO
Eddie Gordon defeats Josh Samman via decision
Corey Anderson defeats Jonathan Wilson via TKO
Ashlee Evans-Smith defeats Raquel Pennington via decision
Sergio Pettis defeats Matt Hobar via TKO
Alex White defeats Clay Collard via decision
David is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and boxing practitioner who has watched and studied MMA for the past 9 years. Send him your questions @davidkingwriter.
Don’t forget to check out my UFC 181 Prediction FightPicks shortly before the prelims start. Up +17.94 units so far this year.