On this past Wednesday’s episode of “UFC Tonight,” Michael Bisping and Kenny Florian offered up their thoughts on the main and co-main event for this evening.
In the UFC 181 headline fight, Robbie Lawler challenges Johny Hendricks for the welterweight title. Earlier this year, Hendricks earned a decision to claim the vacant belt.
“This is a fight of the year candidate for sure,” Bisping said. “You want to talk about a guy who’s hungry and motivated for the title? Robbie Lawler is going to give Johny Hendricks a fight for his life. But Hendricks is the best wrestler in the division and has great knock-out power.
“In the fifth round in the last fight, Hendricks showed why he’s the champion. It was a ridiculously close fight and he showed true grit and determination with a takedown that won him that fight. With Hendricks, you get both wrestling and the knockout power.”
Lawler recovered from the loss, defeating Jake Ellenberger and Matt Brown to earn his rematch.
“Lawler has completely revitalized his career with the technique he’s added to his arsenal. He’s still hungry,” Florian said. “That last round of the last title fight has really been eating at him. He wants to get the win and the title. He continues to evolve and you don’t usually see that for a guy in this stage of his career.
“For Hendricks, that long layoff might hinder him. Hendricks has been a champion since high school wrestling. He just finds a way to win. He went into the last fight with a torn bicep, but he found a way to win.”
In the co-main, Gilbert Melendez gets his second shot at becoming UFC champion, this time against Anthony Pettis.
“Pettis has the best kicking game in the business and has submissions as well,” Bisping said. “There’s no better fight for him than to fight Gilbert. Melendez was the most dominant Strikeforce champion in history.
He lost a razor-thin decision to Benson Henderson and he has a great style to push the pace against Pettis, get him against fence, take him down and to make it all out war.”
Melendez seemed poised to sign with Bellator MMA before negotiating a new deal with the UFC that included both a title shot and spot as coach on The Ultimate Fighter opposite Pettis.
“Anthony Pettis made it look easy against Benson Henderson,” Florian said. “When the lights go up, he shows up. He wants to get a big win against Gilbert. Gilbert can’t make it a technical war. Melendez has the chin to make it a scrap, make it ugly against him.”