Robbie Lawler celebrated inside the Octagon with former UFC champions Matt Hughes and Pat Miletich Saturday night at UFC 181, as he became the welterweight champion with a split decision victory over Johny Hendricks.
Lawler came out strong in the first round, going after Hendricks and trying to finish him. “Bigg Rigg” won the title earlier this year with a decision victory.
As the fight continued, Lawler appeared to save himself for the final moments when he unleashed a barrage of attacks that had Hendricks on the ropes.
Anthony Pettis made history in the co-main event, earning the first finish vs. former Strikeforce champion Gilbert Melendez. “Showtime” picked up his initial title defense in the process, remaining UFC lightweight champ.
Pettis struggled to keep Melendez from imposing his will in the opening five minutes, but he was able to take advantage in the second when “El Nino” failed on a takedown. He quickly locked up a submission and became the first fighter in 26 bouts to stop Melendez.
In earlier main card action, Travis Browne stopped Brendan Schaub late in the first round and Todd Duffee dropped Anthony Hamilton early in the first. The win was the first in over two years for Duffee, who is overcoming a medical battle.
Tony Ferguson started off the pay-per-view with a second round submission vs. Abel Trujillo, while Urijah Faber concluded the prelims by choking out Francisco Rivera.
Faber’s win had a little controversy behind it, as “The California Kid” landed an accidental eye poke that seriously hurt Rivera. While the underdog was trying to recover, Faber pounced, locking up the bulldog choke.
Josh Samman defeated former Ultimate Fighter winner Eddie Gordon with a head-kick, Corey Anderson topped Justin Jones, Raquel Pennington choked Ashlee Evans-Smith out, and both Sergio Pettis and Clay Collard scored decisions.
Complete results can be found below, while full UFC 181 play-by-play can be found on FightLine:
Robbie Lawler def. Johny Hendricks via split decision (48-47, 47-48, 49-46) to become the new UFC welterweight championship
Anthony Pettis def. Gilbert Melendez via submission (guillotine choke) at 1:52 of Round 2 to retain the UFC lightweight championship
Travis Browne def. Brendan Schaub via TKO (strikes) at 4:50 of Round 1
Todd Duffee def. Anthony Hamilton via KO (strike) at :33 of Round 1
Tony Ferguson def. Abel Trujillo via submission (rear-naked choke) at 4:19 of Round 2
Urijah Faber def. Francisco Rivera via submission (bulldog choke) at 1:34 of Round 2
Josh Samman def. Eddie Gordon via KO (head kick) at 3:08 of Round 2
Corey Anderson def. Justin Jones via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
Raquel Pennington def. Ashlee Evans-Smith via submission (bulldog choke) at 4:59 of Round 1
Sergio Pettis def. Matt Hobar via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Clay Collard def. Alex White via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)