UFC 171 MATCHUPS
A breakdown of the main card today at American Airlines Center in Dallas:
Johny Hendricks (15-2) vs. Robbie Lawler (22-9, 1 NC)
■ CLASS: For vacant welterweight title
■ LINE: Hendricks -350
■ STORYLINE: The title fight that almost wasn’t for a belt. Hendricks missed weight on his first attempt Friday and didn’t look great on the scale. He was able to make it down to 170 pounds about an hour later, so the belt will indeed go to the winner. Had Hendricks not made the weight limit, he would not have been able to win the title. That might not be the end of the story, though. Fighters, like most athletes, are all about routine. Go to the scale at 4 p.m., make weight, rehydrate, eat dinner and rest. It usually goes like clockwork. What will the break in routine, in which Hendricks had to get back into weight-cutting mode and throw his schedule off, do to his fight-night performance? Bettors rushed to window immediately after the news broke and bet Hedricks down from about a minus-425 favorite. The weight-cut issue provided all the more reason to take Lawler, who with 18 career knockouts has better than just a puncher’s chance. Still, Hendricks is that good. He should use takedowns to set up his shots and land a big left hand at some point in the middle of the fight.
■ PICK: Hendricks by third-round knockout
Carlos Condit (29-7) vs. Tyron Woodley (12-2)
■ CLASS: Welterweight
■ LINE: Condit -170
■ STORYLINE: The winner is a possible next challenger to whomever emerges from the main event with the belt. Woodley has transformed his game since moving to the Ultimate Fighting Championship. After recording just one knockout in his first 11 fights, the former Strikeforce champion has stopped two opponents in the first round in his past three fights. The two-time NCAA Division I All-America wrestler at Missouri can still grind out opponents, too. He might have a difficult go of it against one of the most well-rounded fighters in the division, though. Condit is a great strategist and can be dangerous on the feet and on the ground, even from his back. Woodley still might make a title run, but this is a step up in talent and experience for him.
■ PICK: Condit by decision
Diego Sanchez (26-6) vs. Myles Jury (13-0)
■ CLASS: Lightweight
■ LINE: Jury -180
■ STORYLINE: Jury is a shining prospect who has four wins in the UFC after a stint on “The Ultimate Fighter.” He’s skilled in all areas, as he is an adept kickboxer with a black belt in jiu-jitsu. This fight will largely serve as a referendum on whether he’s ready to take the next step from prospect to contender. It’s a tough draw, though. Sanchez is best known for a frantic, fan-friendly style, and he consistently draws opponents into brawls. That’s not what Jury wants to do, but Sanchez has the experience to implement his will and dictate pace. If Jury stays within himself and doesn’t get drawn in, he should win this fight. Don’t be surprised if Sanchez turns this into yet another fight-of-the-night-type bout and gives himself a chance. He’s enough of an underdog to make it worth a shot.
■ PICK: Sanchez by decision
Jake Shields (29-6-1, 1 NC) vs. Hector Lombard (33-4-1, 1 NC)
■ CLASS: Welterweight
■ LINE: Lombard -205
■ STORYLINE: This will be just Lombard’s second fight since dropping down to the welterweight division. The first one went very well. Lombard made his 170-pound debut in October with a quick knockout of Nate Marquardt. Cutting the weight ensures Lombard comes into fights in great shape, which in theory will help eliminate the fatigue concerns that have been a problem at times for him. Shields is going through a bit of a resurgence. He has won four straight fights, though one of those results was changed to a no contest after Shields failed the post-fight drug test. Classic Jake Shields has reappeared, as he has gone the distance in all four fights and worn down his opponents by using his wrestling and jiu-jitsu to control position. Lombard never has been stopped in a fight, so this probably will go the distance, which gives Lombard 15 minutes to land a fight-changing punch.
■ PICK: Lombard by second-round knockout.
Ovince St. Preux (14-5) vs. Nikita Krylov (16-3)
■ CLASS: Light heavyweight
■ LINE: St. Preux -350
■ STORYLINE: St. Preux was due to fight Thiago Silva in this fight, but Silva was arrested about a month ago and released from the UFC. So St. Preux, who has won 11 of his past 12 fights, will instead fight Krylov. The short notice could affect Krylov even more than other fighters, as he is dropping to light heavyweight for the first time. Krylov looked average, to be friendly, in his UFC debut in August. He bounced back with a 25-second knockout win in January, though. He will probably look to get this fight to the ground against St. Preux, a former college football player with an incredibly long reach and all sorts of power. St. Preux should absolutely win this fight, but this price is too high. So for bettors, there is plenty of value in the underdog.
■ PICK: St. Preux by second-round knockout
ADAM HILL/LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL