(Photo Courtesy of Getty)
BY: TIM MUTOHFAN
There are many bumps and potholes on the road to UFC 181. UFC 181 was meant to have Chris Weidman vs. Vitor Belfort as its main event now features the rematch for the UFC Welterweight title, Johny Hendricks vs. Robbie Lawler.
The two men faced each other in March of 2014 for the vacated 170lb title at UFC: Hendricks vs. Lawler in Dallas, Texas. It was a hotly contested battle between the two top welterweights in the world that saw both men tested to their limits. An even fight going into the 5th round saw both combatants give everything they had for the gold strap. Hendricks won the round and his welterweight title with late takedown. It was a brutal and violent fight; both fighters landed heavy shots and walked through them just to take more of them.
Johny Hendricks hasn’t fought since then recovering from surgery to repair a torn bicep.
Robbie Lawler on the other hand had 2 fights, both victories. A TKO win over Jake Ellenberger in March at UFC: Barao vs. Dillashaw and a decision win over Matt Brown in July at UFC on Fox: Lawler vs. Brown.
Lightweight Champion Anthony Pettis will be defending his title against Gilbert Melendez. The #1 and #2 155ers in the world coached against each other on the currently airing season of The Ultimate Fighter. This is Pettis’s first defense of his title since defeating Benson Henderson via armbar in August of last year. Much time and many names have swirled around who would get the first go at the new champion, TJ Grant, Josh Thompson and even rumors that Featherweight Campion Jose Aldo moving up in weight for a shot at the 155lb. title surfaced, but none of those fights came to fruition. So the spinning wheel of title contenders finally landed on a fighter with a green light, that being former Strikeforce Lightweight Champion and one time challenger to the UFC 155 crown, against the man Pettis defeated for the title, Benson Henderson.
Travis Browne who was on the brink of a title shot until Fabricio Werdum came into his life is working his way back to that lofty perch of title talks. Now in his way of achieving that is Brendan Schaub. The two heavyweights are both coming off of losses, Browne to the aforementioned Werdum, Shaub to Andrei Arlovski.
Browne, whose big wins are bigger than his big losses, is still very much on the upswing, crushing KO victories over Stefan Struve, Alistair Overeem and Josh Barnett, with the setbacks to Antonio Silva and Fabricio Werdum. Still with those 2 losses many feel the best Browne is yet to happen. At heavyweight a powerful striker with an iron chin and ever evolving ground game is a rare commodity. Hence many fans clamoring to still see what the 6’7” Hawaiian has to offer that division.
Brendan Schaub is a bit of an enigma. Good striker with a greatly underrated ground game, yet there is still something missing it seems, to say the least lackluster performance in his meeting with Andrei Arlovski is yet another instance of why MMA fans never know what to expect from Schaub. Questions of his chin have been raised, along with his will in certain circles. The TUF: Evans vs. Jackson finalist (losing to Roy Nelson in the finals) had the glimmer of great potential, if not to be great, then certainly to be a competitive heavyweight. Sadly for him consistency has been elusive.
A light heavyweight attraction was added to this event; Corey Anderson will be facing Gian Villante.
Anderson, the light heavyweight winner of The Ultimate Fighter: Edgar vs. Penn brings a record of 3-0 (1-0 in the UFC) with him in his second appearance in the Octagon. Anderson won the TUF 19 finale with a knock out win just 61 seconds into the first round, the fasted victory in TUF finals history.
Villante a 5 year MMA veteran and training partner of Middleweight Chmapion makes his 5th UFC appearance, against Corey Anderson. Villante has fought his way to a record of 12-5 (4-4 in the UFC) was a winner in his last outing over Sean O’Donnell at UFC Fight Night: Te Huna vs. Marquardt in June of this year.
Added, Todd Duffee vs. Anthony Hamilton
The enigma that is Todd Duffee makes his Octagon return on December 6th. Who even knows what to expect from this guy? He has looked as good as any heavyweight in history and he has also looked as bad as any heavyweight in history.
He’s a big strong guy with what looks like the tools to be one of the best in the world. Tied for third (with Jung Chan-Sung and Ryan Jimmo with a time of 0:07) for the fastest KO in UFC history, so obviously the power is there. A major hurdle he has faced is his inability to stay healthy; he’s had almost as many fights cancelled than he’s had fights actually come off. A bout with Parsonage Turner Syndrome which at first he was told by doctors he could be out of the fight game for up to 2 years, but he was back training within 6 months.
Duffee is still a young man, hopefully this fight, however it turns out could be the step in the direction of him finally realizing the potential he was showing when he made his first splash in MMA.
Anthony Hamilton will be making his 3rd appearance in the Octagon, his TKO win over Ruan Potts in his last UFC fight at UFC 177 was much better than his first which was a submission loss to Alexey Oleinik via Neck Crank at UFC Fight Night: Swanson vs. Stephens. Hamilton is 1-1 in the UFC (13-3 overall).
UFC: Weidman vs. Belfort reported card to date:
Welterweight Title: Johny Hendricks vs. Robbie Lawler
Lightweight Championship: Anthony Pettis (Champion) vs. Gilbert Melendez
Heavyweights: Travis Browne vs. Brendan Schaub
Light Heavyweights: Corey Anderson vs. Gian Villante
Heavyweights: Todd Duffee vs. Anthony Hamilton