UFC 171 takes place this evening from Dallas and the American Airlines Center, and will see the crowning of a new welterweight champion.
Ignorning the interim title that Carlos Condit held for nine months, Georges St-Pierre has been the UFC welterweight champion since 2008 when he unified the belts with a win over Matt Serra.
Like Anderson Silva, St-Pierre ruled the 170-pound division for years, taking out the likes of BJ Penn, Dan Hardy, Josh Koscheck, Carlos Condit and Nick Diaz.
Here’s three things you need to know concerning tonight’s main event between Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler.
Joining an elite club
Either Hendricks or Lawler will become just the ninth UFC welterweight champion ever, and that includes a list of just six fighters (not including Condit’s interim reign).
The others are Pat Miletich, Carlos Newton, Matt Hughes, Penn, Serra and GSP.
The belt was originally the UFC lightweight title before Miletich became the welterweight champion in 1998 with a victory over Mikey Burnett. The current announcer held it for 931 days and defended it four times.
Newton won the belt in 2001, but immediately dropped it to Hughes in his first title defense. Hughes would become a two-time champion, just like St-Pierre.
Hendricks or Lawler will have a long ways to go to match GSP for the record in terms of days being champion, as the Canadian held the title for 2,204 days over his two runs – including 2,064 in his latest stint atop the division.
Who’s the better wrestler?
Hendricks was a two-time national champion while competing at Oklahoma State University and a four-time All-American for the Cowboys.
He also picked up three Big 12 titles and was a three-time Oklahoma state wrestling champion in high school.
Lawler was a standout on both the wrestling mat and the gridiron, securing all-state status in both sports in Iowa.
In terms of the ground game, the advantage definitely holds with “Bigg Rigg” in terms of background and resume.
The ATT difference
Lawler has admitted in interviews that he needed a change in training to get the best out of himself, and American Top Team has provided that.
From 2009 to 2012, “Ruthless” went 3-5 while competing for Strikeforce. That included decision losses to Lorenz Larkin, Tim Kennedy and Renato Sobral, along with submission defeats at the hands of Ronaldo Souza and Jake Shields.
That’s a strong list of fighters, but what Lawler has done since the calendar flipped to 2013 has been nothing short of amazing.
He finished Josh Koscheck in the first round at UFC 157, becoming the first person to do that since 2009 and just the second-ever in Koscheck’s career.
Lawler followed that up by dealing veteran tough guy Bobby Voelker his first stoppage defeat since 2008, and concluded his run with a decision over Rory MacDonald.