UFC president Dana White may not have wanted to take sides when asked who he thought won the UFC 181 main event between Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler on Saturday night, and that’s exactly why he immediately warmed to the idea of a trilogy.
Hendricks went into the fight after a long layoff looking to defend the UFC welterweight championship against the man he defeated to initially win the belt. But after a second five-round war, Hendricks exited the Octagon minus his belt.
A lot of people thought he had done enough to win, while others felt that Lawler justifiably won the split-decision nod from the judges.
White, however, wasn’t leaning either direction after a second fight that lived up to recollections of the first epic battle earlier this year.
“I’m done scoring fights. I started talking to a lot of the fighters here on who won and they were all split,” said White on the UFC 181 Post-Show. “(Matchmaker) Joe Silva said you can’t win a fight with your head between someone’s legs for three rounds.”
Despite his success on the feet, that was the heaviest criticism leveled at the now-former champ. Hendricks was more than holding his own in the striking game, but kept trying to take Lawler down. Lawler, however, did a good job defending most of his attempts.
“I tell these guys all the time – don’t leave it in the hands of the judges,” White responded when asked what Hendricks could have done differently. “I thought Johny looked good standing up, but he kept trying to take him down and waste time.”
Hendricks and Lawler now each have a victory over the other, and each fight went the 25-minute duration.
There were hardly any complaints either time. Most everyone came away from each fight feeling they’d gotten their money’s worth. And that’s leaving White reconsidering the welterweight title picture.
Although an immediate rematch would mean Hendricks fighting Lawler in three consecutive fights and leave Rory MacDonald twisting in the wind, the allure of another rematch is in the air.
“Rory MacDonald actually thought Lawler won the fight,” relayed White. “We said he’d get the next shot at the title, but the trilogy wouldn’t be a bad idea.”