Robbie Lawler came on like the fighter down on the scorecards Saturday night after the second round of his UFC 171 main event bout with Johny Hendricks.
With the UFC welterweight title on the line, Lawler won the third and fourth rounds, but Hendricks took the fifth to become the new champion.
“I needed to do a little bit more,” Lawler said. “He did enough to win. Plain and simple.”
Lawler (22-10) had his three-fight win streak snapped. This was his first loss inside the Octagon since a 2004 submission defeat at the hands of Evan Tanner.
“Ruthless” left the UFC after that loss, competing for EliteXC, Strikeforce and a few other promotions before returning to the UFC in 2013.
Lawler stopped Josh Koscheck and Bobby Voelker before scoring a decision over Rory MacDonald to earn his shot at the belt.
“(Hendricks) is one hell of a fighter,” he said. “He was taking it to me. He got a couple takedowns and fought one hell of a fight.”