Johny Hendricks came up short on the scorecards Saturday night. | Photo: Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog.com
Johny Hendricks doesn’t seem to have the best luck when it comes to title fights in Las Vegas.
His loss to Robbie Lawler in the UFC 181 main event marked the second time in as many trips to Sin City that the Team Takedown representative has come out on the wrong end of a split verdict. The first time, of course, come against then welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre at UFC 167.
In between, St. Pierre retired and vacated the title, clearing the way for “Big Rigg” to edge Lawler and claim the crown in their first meeting at UFC 171 in Dallas this past March. While Hendricks gave plenty of credit to Lawler for his win in the rematch, he also thought he did enough to get the nod on the scorecards.
“I’m not gonna take nothing away from Robbie Lawler. Robbie fought good,” Hendricks said at the post-fight press conference. “He deserved to get his hand raised tonight. I just thought I won. Sometimes for some reason out here in Vegas I don’t get the win. I tried to knock him out, but the guy’s got a jaw. I got a jaw. So whenever it comes down to that, you sort of have to leave it to [the judges]. It just wasn’t my night.”
Hendricks started slowly and faded late against Lawler at the Mandalay Bay Events Centert. After he survived Lawler’s initial assault in round one, however, it seemed as though he was going to impose his will the rest of the way. However, Hendricks’ insistence on holding on -- unsuccessfully -- for takedowns in rounds four and five might have ultimately led to his demise, as Lawler capitalized with hammerfists and punches on his vulnerable foe.
“I didn’t fight. Look at the fourth and fifth round.. I just didn’t fight,” Hendricks said. “I didn’t come out the fourth and fifth like I normally do. It is what it is. I’m gonna be my worst critic. I don’t need you guys to come out and say he looked like s--t. That’s my job. That’s what it was. I didn’t stay light on my feet like I should’ve. You get lost in the moment. That happened to me and I’ll be back.”
While it’s back to the drawing board for Hendricks, he still believes he improved upon his performance at UFC 171 despite not getting the desired result. One important change he hopes to make is improving his diet to make weight cuts less demanding in the future.
“The fight tonight made me learn a lot about myself -- a lot about what I need to do and what I need to correct in my camp,” he said. “A lot revolves walking around at 215. I’m gonna make that decision; I’m gonna work with Mike Dolce to stay around 195, do everything right because I had that belt and I want it back. I love food too; don’t get me wrong. That’s gonna be a tough decision, but I love that belt more than food.”
The close nature of their first two meetings seems to dictate that a trilogy could be in the future for Hendricks and Lawler. However, the former Oklahoma State University wrestling star wasn’t making any demands in the aftermath.
“That’s not my call. Whatever the UFC wants that’s what I’m going to do,” he said. “That’s my management’s job. If my coaches want the rematch right now then we’ll do the rematch. I’m perfectly fine with that.”