Johny Hendricks will face Robbie Lawler for the vacant 170-pound title. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler will square off at UFC 171 for the vacant welterweight title.
UFC President Dana White announced the booking on Friday during a media conference call shortly after longtime welterweight titleholder Georges St. Pierre revealed that he will vacate the belt and take a leave of absence.
UFC 171 takes place March 15 at American Airlines Arena in Dallas. White additionally revealed that the pay-per-view event could feature an appearance from Carlos Condit, though that booking is not yet a done deal.
Hendricks, 30, saw a six-fight winning streak halted in a UFC 167 title bid against St. Pierre, who took a controversial split decision over “Bigg Rigg” to defend his belt at the Nov. 16 event. The hard-punching wrestler began his Octagon career in 2009 and has won 10 of his last 12 bouts, scoring five of his wins by knockout and picking up five post-fight bonuses along the way.
Lawler, meanwhile, has experienced a career resurgence since returning to the UFC and the welterweight division, rattling off three straight victories this year. The 12-year-pro kicked off 2013 with a knockout win over Josh Koscheck and then finished fellow Strikeforce alum Bobby Voelker this past July. Like Hendricks, “Ruthless” last competed at UFC 167, taking a split verdict from fellow top-10 talent Rory MacDonald.