SiriusXM Fight Club’s RJ Clifford and Ricky Bones break down UFC 171.

The great state of Texas is no stranger to good old fashioned shootouts. Long-reigning welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre is out of the picture leaving the hard-hitting pair of Americans, Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler, left to sort it out themselves.

Betting lines based on Wednesday’s

Johny Hendricks -450 vs Robbie Lawler +325

Ricky’s Pick: Hendricks

This fight is historic in a lot of ways. For the past seven years, the UFC Welterweight Division has been ruled by one man, former UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre. Saturday night that will all change as Hendricks and Lawler will step into the cage and in five rounds (if it goes that far) will attempt to win the belt that GSP vacated. This fight has the makings of a barn-burner with both men possessing heavy hands and aggressive styles that have become their trademarks. Lawler has had a hell of a 2013, winning three fights in a row against tough competition, with two of those fights ending in brutal knockouts. He brings with him a newly forged, well-rounded skill-set and a desire to be champ that had been vacant in years past. His opponent Johny Hendricks has also had an impressive road to the fight, leaving the bodies of most of the top 10 welterweight competition in his wake. More importantly, he feels that the UFC welterweight strap is already his. Scoring a controversial razor thin split decision loss (A fight that Hendricks and many fighters, media and fans thinks he won) at the hands of former champ GSP. This fight comes down to not only execution, but also respecting the other opponent’s power. Both men can end the fight with either hand, and their aggressive styles should equate to a real treat for fight fans all over the world. In the end the X factor will be the wrestling of Johny Hendricks. If it gets too rough on the feet, “Big Rig” can always take the fight to the mat where he is also very comfortable. But make no bones about it, it won’t be easy. Hendricks will show why he is the best 170-pounder in the world by beating Lawler in every facet of the fight en route to becoming the new UFC welterweight champion by unanimous decision.

RJ’s Pick: Hendricks

What. A. Fight! After St. Pierre’s almost six year consecutive reign over the 170-pound division, MMA fans can expect far less precision game planning and a lot more ass kicking. Despite popular opinion, Hendricks and Lawler are not mindless brawlers but they do resurrect a level of violence this division is famous for. Both men are southpaws and both are most successful when their left hands landing on their opponent’s chin. Hendricks is just as likely to knock an opponent’s block off as he is to take a close decision. The NCAA wrestling champion leans on takedowns when the KO doesn’t come early and it likely won’t against a savvy veteran like Lawler. That means Hendricks must use his punching power to open up his takedowns and vice versa. Lawler is also a low-volume striker but has a more diverse striking attack than Hendricks. Unlike most fights where Lawler either KO’s his foe or loses a decision, he could actually win rounds on his feet against a head hunter like Hendricks. When, and not if, Lawler gets taken down, this fight could easily be decided how quickly Lawler can get back up to his feet. Lawler is capable of winning this fight by frustrating Hendricks with slow action and forcing a brawl. A brawl also tires out Hendricks who’ll be at a cardio disadvantage. In the end, Hendricks’ power forces Lawler to respect the striking therefore opening up takedowns. The Oklahoma State Cowboy racks up rounds with takedowns and scores a decision.

Carlos Condit -205 vs Tyron Woodley +167

Ricky’s Pick: Condit

There are a lot of welterweight implications in the co-main event fight of the evening. Dana White has said that with a win, Condit will get a title shot. The “Natural Born Killer” has been a fixture a top the UFC welterweight rankings and he will be looking to stamp his ticket to a championship fight with a win over the surging Tyron Woodley. This fight could go either way. Woodley has pure KO power and really good wrestling. Condit has excellent kickboxing and a gas tank that can last 5 rounds. Condit will have his hands full, but look for him to out gun Woodley in a fight of the night caliber scrap via unanimous decision.

RJ’s Pick: Condit

The co-main event pits former WEC champion Condit against Strikeforce veteran Woodley. Picking against Condit is rarely a smart move since the Albuquerque native is dominant in all his fights unless he’s matched up against a good wrestler with punching power – which is exactly what Woodley is. Against Hendricks, St. Pierre, Rory MacDonald and Jake Ellenberger, Condit struggled defending takedowns. His opponents avoided striking trouble by scoring takedowns. Woodley made his career as a wrestler winning decisions with takedowns and a top-heavy attack. The Missouri Tiger showed glimpses of never-before-seen punching power against Jay Heiron and Josh Koscheck in the UFC. Top to bottom, Condit is the superior fighter but Woodley is the worst possible match-up. I’ll take Condit scoring points with punches, knees and kicks and using his scrambling and submission threats to keep the ground battle somewhat even. Also, Condit finished 27 of the 29 fighters he’s defeated. We should see a rematch of the UFC 158 co-main event Condit vs. Hendricks, this time for the title, thanks to a Condit win Saturday.

Diego Sanchez +147 vs Myles Jury -180

Ricky’s Pick: Jury

Even though Sanchez is coming off of a loss, he still left his UFC 166 “Fight of the Year” caliber scrap with Gilbert Melendez a winner. Look for Sanchez to push the same frenetic pace when he goes toe-to-toe with Alliance MMA stand out Jury. This fight will not disappoint, not when one half of the dance pair is “The Dream”. But unfortunately it will be the same old song and dance for Sanchez. He will move forward and force Jury to fight and Jury will use superior game planning en route to a unanimous decision victory.

RJ’s Pick: Jury

After a slow-paced decision win over Mike Ricci, the undefeated Jury was given the antidote to slow paces — Sanchez. The original Ultimate Fighter put on Fight of the Night performances in four of his last five with his aggressive, forward-pressing style and using his face as a shield for punches. Jury’s made it clear he isn’t interested in wars of attrition he can brag to his grandkids about one day. He’s in the business of winning. The Alliance MMA lightweight is incredibly savvy in all positions in MMA. He doesn’t take damage standing, he wins scrambles on the ground and rarely is put in any kind of serious trouble. Jury’s undefeated streak comes to an end when he’s forced out of his comfort zone by an opponent with real finishing ability. Sanchez hasn’t finished an opponent since 2008. He ain’t that guy. Sanchez wins rounds he shouldn’t by fooling judges with punches and forward motion so picking someone to beat him by decision can blow up in your face, but that’s what I’m doing.

Hector Lombard -200 vs Jake Shields +165

Ricky’s Pick: Lombard

Shields has had a career resurgence inside the cage as of late and could solidify his place in the welterweight title picture with a win. Lombard on the other hand has just begun his welterweight title run after an impressive debut KO over Nate Marquardt. It’s a classic grappler/striker match-up with a lot at stake. Shields will be looking to take this to the ground despite what Lombard has said to try and get under the skin of his opponent. But it won’t go there. Lombard’s explosiveness at his new weight class will be too much for the Scrap Pack fixture. Brutal KO round 1.

RJ’s Pick: Shields

Two of the UFC’s most expensive free agent acquisitions of the last few years have not panned out the way the big money they pull in had hoped. Lombard’s devastating knockout run he enjoyed as Bellator middleweight champion has been hit or miss in the UFC. His lack of striking combinations mixed with his questionable cardio cost him two split-decision losses. Shields, on the other hand, has consistently found favor with the judges. The former Strikeforce champ is one of the most misunderstood fighters in all of MMA. He’s looked upon exclusively as a wrestler / jiu-jitsu fighter but when takedowns don’t come, he’s mastered the ability to throw strikes into a clinch and win rounds by default of both guys doing little, with Shields doing slightly more. He could do this against Lombard who often looks lost in the cage when KO’s don’t come. Other than a KO loss to Ellenberger just after the loss of his father, Shields’ chin held up to some of the most powerful punchers in all of MMA including Dan Henderson, Lawler and Woodley. The Olympic judoka Lombard is a tough task to take down and submit so look for Shields to throw a one-two-kick combo into a clinch for 15 minutes and a decision win.

Nikita Krylov +285 vs Ovince St. Preux -370

Ricky’s Pick: St. Preux

OSP is stepping in against tough submission ace Krylov that will be mostly contested on the ground. While both guys are comfortable on the ground, look for St. Preux after having a full training camp to thwart any submissions attempts from Krylov and ground and pound his was to a unanimous decision victory.

RJ’s Pick: St. Preux

Unless St. Preux gets sloppy while exchanging with Krylov, this is his fight to win. The ridiculously athletic St. Preux should have little problem taking down Krylov who’s stance and movement can be sloppy at times. The Ukrainian found a lot of success with submissions in Eastern Europe where their jiu-jitsu is behind the times compared to North America. St. Preux sets up takedowns with strikes and scores a TKO win late in the fight.


RJ 4-1

Ricky 3-2


RJ 12-3

Ricky 10-5

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