Johny Hendricks had every reason to celebrate Oklahoma-style after UFC 171.
Hendricks was paired with Robbie Lawler in the main event of UFC 171 on Saturday at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. The five-round title fight for the vacant Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight crown became an instant classic after Hendricks and Lawler went toe-to-toe for 25 minutes. The tone for the in-cage action was set with the walkout songs, as both men selected the same reflective tracks they used at UFC 167 in November.
“50 Dollars and a Flask of Crown” by Bleu Edmondson is a song one listens to while rocking in a chair on the front porch or sitting alone in a boat fishing for dinner. Hendricks utilizes the upbeat tempo of “50 Dollars and a Flask of Crown” to put him in the mood to rocket unapologetic left hands at his opponent’s face. A 50 spot and fresh whiskey form the type of spread that could be found at the post-fight after party of either the winner or the loser.
Because of something known as the “Eminem Curse,” fighters dance with fate and the supernatural if they select a song from the Detroit rapper’s music catalogue. A 13-year veteran of MMA, Lawler experienced a career resurgence after a nine-year sabbatical from the UFC and a return to the welterweight division. Riding a three-fight winning streak that included a “Beautiful” Eminem walkout prior to his bout with Rory MacDonald four months ago, Lawler was in prime position to exorcise demons and win shiny belt straps.
Over the course of the five-round championship fight, Hendricks and Lawler each flashed moments of greatness. In rounds one and two, Hendricks added kicks to his improved boxing game to rack up points. Rounds three and four saw Lawler up his aggression, as he battered Hendricks with punches that stunned the Team Takedown fighter on multiple occasions.
Heading into the final round, Hendricks gritted his teeth and put Lawler on his back with a takedown. All three judges scored the fight 48-47 in favor of Hendricks. With the title victory, “Bigg Rigg” became the seventh man in UFC history to hold up the undisputed welterweight belt.
Meanwhile, Tyron Woodley is not turning back on his run up the UFC welterweight division’s ladder. Woodley has hitched a ride to inspirational rapper Thi’sl and his jam, “I Ain’t Turning Back,” for his last few UFC outings. Training out of American Top Team, Woodley, once regarded as just a wrestler in the cage, continues to round out his game with each passing Octagon appearance.
A huge Rage Against the Machine fan, Carlos Condit took a different approach with his walkout hype game at UFC 171. The melancholy sounds of “Further On (Up the Road)” by the late great Johnny Cash blasted the “Natural Born Killer” to the cage. The rap metal instrumentation of Rage Against the Machine’s heavy guitar riffs, along with violent vocals, were a beautiful marriage between Condit and his aggressive fighting style.
The 31-year-old Woodley’s improved standup was on display in round one, as he caught Condit with two early right hands. In the second round, Woodley landed a takedown that injured Condit. The fight ended after a restart when the two-time NCAA All-American nailed Condit with a leg kick and the Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts fighter’s leg gave out. With that, Woodley had hustled his way into the division’s top 5 and moved towards a possible title shot before the end of the year.
On the undercard, flyweight up-and-comer Justin Scoggins continued to excite MMA pundits, not only with his game inside the cage but with his underrated dance skills en route to it. The 21-year-old bounced his way to the cage backed by one of the top pop songs of the past six months. Off the “Despicable Me 2” Soundtrack, Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” could bring a smile to even the most stone-faced Scoggins opponent. Now 11-0, Scoggins’ love of smiling, dancing and the little yellow Minions from “Despicable Me 2” give him a clear edge in the unspoken psychological warfare that takes place when two fighters step into the UFC’s Octagon.
UFC 171 Walkout SongsJohny Hendricks: Bleu Edmondson “50 Dollars and a Flask of Crown” Southland (2008)
Robbie Lawler: Eminem “Beautiful” Relapse (2009)
Tyron Woodley: Thi’sl feat. Flame “I Ain’t Turning Back” Chronicles of An X-Hustler (2009)
Carlos Condit: Johnny Cash “Further On (Up the Road)” American V: A Hundred Highways (2006)
Myles Jury: Mac Miller “Donald Trump” Best Day Ever (2011)
Diego Sanchez: Queen “We Will Rock You” News of the World (1977)
Hector Lombard: Newsboys “Born Again” Born Again (2010)
Jake Shields: The White Stripes “Seven Nation Army” Elephant (2003)
Ovince St. Preux: Rick Ross “Hold Me Back” God Forgives, I Don’t (2012)
Nikita Krylov: Duane Eddy “Rebel Rouser” Have ‘Twangy’ Guitar Will Travel (1958)
Kelvin Gastelum: Vicente Fernandez “Los Mandados” A Pesar De Todo (1978)
Rick Story: AC/DC “Back in Black” Back in Black (1980)
Francisco Trevino: Dilated Peoples “You Can’t Hide, You Can’t Run” 20/20 (2006)
Justin Scoggins: Pharrell Williams “Happy” Despicable Me 2 Soundtrack (2013)
Sean Strickland: Johnny Cash “Ain’t No Grave” American VI: Ain’t No Grave (2010)
Bubba McDaniel: House of Pain “Jump Around” House of Pain (1992)
Robert Whiteford: Three 6 Mafia “It’s a Fight” Rocky Balboa: The Best of Rocky (2006)
Daniel Pineda: Randy Edelman & Trevor Jones “Promentory” The Last of the Mohicans Soundtrack (1992)
Tommy Messano is the editor-in-chief of ULTMMA.com. You can contact him on Twitter at @ULTMMA.