With five rounds played out in front of a fervent SAP Center crowd, we now know who will challenge Johnny Hendricks for his UFC Welterweight Championship.
Last night at UFC on Fox 12, Robbie Lawler defeated Matt Brown via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-49, 48-47) in what was a highly anticipated number one contender bout, and one which at various stages of the contest lived up to the pre-fight excitement but would actually appear more favourably as a part of a highlight package rather than a full fight replay.
Nevertheless, this was still a fun, fun fight.
Brown started the fight cold, allowing Lawler to take the initiative and land without too much trouble, backing up Brown and asserting himself early. However, this would not last, with Brown finding form at the midway point of the first, utilising his favoured muay Thai approach to land short, sharp elbows from the clinch and drag Lawler to the mat momentarily via a trip takedown.
Lawler would end the round stronger though, tagging Brown a few times and once again applying the pressure that had Brown on his bike at times.
Round two was where we saw Brown at his best, controlling the tempo and location of the fight, working Lawler with several combinations and heavy kicks, with Lawler seemingly content to take his time and avoid getting caught in a firefight at this stage.
Lawler cuts Brown in the third with an elbow just above his eyebrow as he worked, unsuccessfully, for a takedown in the early part of the round. When free, both Lawler and Brown trade shots, with Lawler edging Brown, landing a kick to the body that wobbled Brown, which actually turned out to have grazed Brown’s nethers allowing referee ‘Big’ John McCarthy to give Brown the chance to recover.
In the fourth, Lawler looked to secure the fight, coming out with a fresh intensity and aggression, and with Brown whiffing on a high kick, he afforded Lawler the chance to gain top position on a felled Brown, which he took full advantage of, keeping Brown glued to the mat for the majority of the round. Once Brown was able to work back to his feet, Lawler, once again, was the man getting the better of the exchanges.
Now, the fifth round was typical of the prolonged action and violence we expected to see when this fight was announced, with both Lawler and Brown feeling the need to have a big round to secure victory, and in Brown’s case, a finish.
Five minutes of back-and-forth action ensue, with each man landing heavy shots and grabbing a hold of the round at one point or another, but with Lawler finishing the stronger; the round, the fight and the opportunity to take on the champ Hendricks again, is his.
Elsewhere on the card, we saw the emerging threats of three fighters in three different weight classes.
Anthony Johnson (205lbs.), Bobby Green (155lbs.) and Dennis Bermudez all laid down a marker in their respective divisions with breakout performances in the case of Green and Bermudez, besting Josh Thomson and Clay Guida and continued havoc-wreaking-brutality in the case of Johnson, with his 44 second KO win over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.