So, tonight is the big night! One of the best pay-per-views of the year and certainly one of the best UFC cards from top-to-bottom in quite a while.
UFC 181: Hendricks vs. Lawler 2 takes place tonight from the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The fact that “The California Kid” Urijah Faber is on the preliminary card should be evidence enough that we’ve got a stacked lineup on our hands, although it could just be a way for UFC to pop a rating for the prelims on FOX Sports 1.
Either way, UFC 181 is tonight and I’m excited! With that said, let’s take a closer look at tonight’s pay-per-view fights….
Tony Ferguson vs. Abel Trujillo
Boone’s Breakdown: Opening up tonight’s pay-per-view is an exciting Lightweight bout that should be a great one. Tony Ferguson is an absolute stud and while he’s not even ranked in the top 15 at 155 pounds, he should be, and with a win over Trujillo, he’d be well on his way. Sporting a 6-1 record inside the Octagon (16-3 overall), Ferguson is a very well-rounded cat who seems like he should be in the mix at the top level. He’s got a game opponent in Trujillo tonight, who is coming off a knockout of the highly regarded Jamie Varner in his last outing. At the end of the day, I think Ferguson is too much for “Killa” Trujillo.
Boone’s Prediction: Tony Ferguson
Todd Duffee vs. Anthony Hamilton
Boone’s Breakdown: The return of Todd Duffee! I’m not sure why this isn’t the opener on the PPV card, as these type of fights where a knockout is expected generally open shows. Duffee, of course, has the infamous seven-second KO of Tim Hague from UFC 102 that had everyone excited about his potential. Since that fight, he dropped two fights by KO to Mike Russow and Alistair Overeem, but has bounced back with two quick KOs. Every fight that Duffee has been in throughout his entire MMA career has ended by KO or TKO, whether he’s landing the shots or taking them. On the other side of the cage will be Anthony Hamilton, who himself has seven KOs in 13 victories. This one should be explosive, and it’d be wise not to blink during it.
Boone’s Prediction: Todd Duffee
Travis Browne vs. Brendan Schaub
Boone’s Breakdown: We’ve got a second Heavyweight fight on the PPV card tonight, and this is it. With a little more name value behind this one, I also expect a knockout from the big boys. Travis “Hapa” Browne is still a stud. He’s coming off a brutal beating at the hands of Fabricio Werdum in his last outing, a fight that was for a title shot, so you know he’s eager to get back into the win column and work his way back up the ladder. He doesn’t have too far to go, however, as he’s still ranked third in the world, behind only Junior dos Santos and the interim champ Werdum, and “main” champ Cain Velasquez. Brendan Schaub has a reputation for having a glass chin, and I’m assuming he’s being served up to get people reminded that Browne is a killer. I expect Browne to have a pretty easy fight tonight, however Schaub has shown flashes of excellence in the past and hell, inside the Octagon, ya just never know. Regardless, this one feels like a pretty safe bet, one of the safest on the entire card.
Boone’s Prediction: Travis Browne
UFC Lightweight Championship
– Anthony Pettis (c) vs. Gilbert Melendez
Boone’s Breakdown: And just that fast, we’re into the first of two title match main events of the evening. On one hand we have Pettis, a flashy, exciting fighter that UFC President Dana White is currently touting as the best pound for pound fighter on the planet. Personally, I disagree. He’s an amazing fighter, no doubt, but I don’t even view him as the best Lightweight on the planet yet, let alone the best pound for pound fighter. I think Melendez has a style that will give Pettis problems. If Clay Guida can handle Pettis, you have to think Melendez can. Then again, Melendez had all he could handle with former champ Benson Henderson, while Pettis blitzed through him with ease to become champ. This should be an exciting fight, however, if Pettis doesn’t get it done fast and impressive early on with a finish, I think Melendez takes it. That being said, how many times can you recall someone finishing Melendez fast and impressively early on, or later, for that matter? I think we hear Bruce Buffer shouting “..and the new” tonight, and I think it happens in this one.
Boone’s Prediction: Gilbert Melendez
UFC Welterweight Championship
– Johny Hendricks (c) vs. Robbie Lawler
Boone’s Breakdown: You have to hate making predictions in a Robbie Lawler fight. You just never know what this dude is going to do. Who had him beating Josh Koscheck in his UFC return? Not me. And he ran through him. Did anyone pick him over Rory MacDonald? I certainly didn’t, and was absolutely forced to eat my words. He’s looked great in his last couple of Octagon appearances, picking up victories over Jake Ellenberger (by stoppage) and ending Matt Brown’s impressive win streak, since last challenging Hendricks for the belt. Hendricks, on the other hand, hasn’t fought since the last Lawler bout due to injury, so it’s hard to tell whether or not he’s improved or not since the last fight. What isn’t hard to tell is the fact that Hendricks comes into this one with two arms instead of one, unless he tears his biceps early in the fight again, so that right there makes this interesting. How much did that play a factor in their last fight, which was extremely close? You have to think it played a big factor, but you can never really tell. Fortunately, we don’t have to wait long to find out, as we’re hours away from seeing these two duke it out again. If I’m a betting man, as much as I love “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler, I’d put my money on Hendricks to retain.
Boone’s Prediction: Johny Hendricks
So, there you have it! That’s what’s in store for us tonight live on pay-per-view for UFC 181: Hendricks vs. Lawler 2. Those who aren’t ordering the PPV tonight should go out of their way to stop by MMANews.com later tonight, as we will be providing detailed, round-by-round live results coverage of the show tonight.
Until then, post your own predictions in the “Comments” section below, or in our MMANews.com Forums.