UFC 181 is a huge card, especially relative to some of the other PPV events that the UFC has offered so far this year. Both the Lightweight and Welterweight belts will be on the line this coming Saturday and those are personally two of my favourite weight classes to watch and follow. Add in the fact that both of the Champs have been away from the Octagon for a decent amount of time nursing injuries and you have a couple of fights that have been long in the making with plenty of anticipation and drama.
I for one am very excited about these two title fights and have been researching them for the past couple days before placing my bets.
Anthony Pettis vs Gilbert Melendez
Anthony Pettis has had a long time to think about defending his Lightweight title. He won the title by defeating Benson Henderson way back in August of 2013. That’s a long 15 month layoff and it will be interesting to see if the Pettis who has 3 consecutive first round finishes over some of the best in the division is who we get in the cage. Pettis is arguably the most dangerous finisher in the UFC and he thinks he can finish Melendez in the first round as well this weekend.
Gilbert Melendez though will be an extremely tough fight for Pettis. He’s also not fought in 14 months as he’s been waiting for his title shot against Pettis for a long time. Melendez has fought in title fights in 10 of his last 11 fights, as he was the Strikeforce Lightweight Champ since 2009, before getting a title shot against Benson Henderson in his first fight in the UFC, which he lost by split decision. Melendez is a very tough customer who knows how to grind out wins in Championship Fights.
He isn’t afraid to get hit and nor should he be seeing as he has never been knocked out in his career, or submitted for that matter. If Melendez can weather the early storm of attacks from Pettis I believe he could use the Championship rounds to his advantage and pull out an upset decision in this one.
Pick Gilbert Melendez +224 @ PinnacleSports.com
Johny Hendricks vs Robbie Lawler
Hendricks defeated Lawler for the Welterweight title back in March of this year and after an injury layoff for Hendricks and two decisive wins by Lawler over top contenders in the division, these two have lined up a rematch at UFC 181. The injury that has kept Hendricks from competing since he squeaked out a win over Lawler back in March was a torn bicep that he injured in the first round their title fight. The torn bicep didn’t affect Hendricks throwing punches too much, but it affected his ability to go for take downs in the fight. Lawler is known for having some great stand up and Hendricks was able to stand with him throughout the fight in March, which leads me to believe he will able to throw with Lawler again.
Add in the superior wrestling of Johny, which he wasn’t really able to use in their first fight and I think Hendricks definitely has the upper hand going into this rematch. Hendricks is a warrior who was able to pull out the 5th round in a tight fight last time with a torn bicep muscle, so I don’t see him getting knocked out or out worked this time around either.
Pick Johny Hendricks -201 @ PinnacleSports.com
Anthony Pettis • Gilbert Melendez • Johny Hendricks • Robbie Lawler