Tonight we will hear the words “and the new UFC Welterweight Champion of the World” for the first time since 2008. In addition to the vacant welterweight title fight between Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler, UFC 171 features an excellent batch of welterweight contests and a few potential barnburner match-ups. Take a look below to see the 5 storylines you should follow tonight during UFC 171.
5. The UFC’s Continued Mexican Push
Fight: Renee Forte vs. Frank Trevino
Where To Watch: UFC Fight Pass at 6 PM ET/3 PM PT
With the UFC working it’s way into Mexico, fans worldwide can expect to see an influx of Mexican talent on future cards. The UFC’s continued push to include more Mexican talent takes another step forward today with the UFC debut of Frank Trevino. Trevino is 11-0 in his MMA career and brings a very well-rounded skill set into the Octagon. Spanish speaking successes like Cain Velasquez and Erik Perez have been very few and far between for the UFC and Trevino can skyrocket his popularity with the UFC brass by picking up an impressive win tonight.
4. A 5 Star Prospect
Fight: Sean Spencer vs. Alex Garcia
Where to Watch: Fox Sports 2 at 8 PM ET/5 PM PT
Alex Garcia made huge waves in his UFC debut this past December, knocking out Ben Wall in just 43 seconds. He returns to action tonight opposite Sean Spencer, who is 2-1 in his UFC career. Many have pegged the 11-1 Garcia to be the top prospect at 170 pounds and an impressive win tonight could further validate those claims. Garcia’s opponent, Spencer, is far from a slouch. Spencer is a former Golden Gloves Boxing champion who battered Drew Dober for three rounds in his last outing. Will Garcia have his breakout performance tonight, or will he be another fighter to fall victim to their own hype train? Tune into Fox Sports 2 at 8 Eastern/5 Pacific to find out.
3. Ultimate Successes
Fights: Kelvin Gastelum vs. Rick Story, Dennis Bermudez vs. Jimy Hettes
Where to Watch: Fox Sporst 2 at 8 PM ET/5 PM PT
Kelvin Gastelum and Dennis Bermudez have been two of the best fighters to come out of the Ultimate Fighter in recent memory. Gastelum won the 17th season of the show and has kept his undefeated record intact since then. Bermudez was a finalist on the 14th iteration of the show and has reeled off 5 straight wins since losing in the show’s finals to Diego Brandao. If both Gastelum and Bermudez are successful tonight, it will go a long way towards regaining the Ultimate Fighter’s legitimacy that it seemed to lose so long ago. In addition, a win for both men will put them in close proximity to a title shot. If you’re into seeing MMA’s top prospects turn the corner to title contention, these are two fights you don’t want to miss.
2. Welterweight Main Card Madness
Fights: Jake Shields vs. Hector Lombard, Carlos Condit vs. Tyron Woodley
Where to Watch: Pay-Per-View Main Card, 10 PM ET/ 7 PM PT
UFC 171 is structured much like UFC 155 was, except with welterweights instead of heavyweights. While the main event casts a significant shadow over the rest of the card, the main card’s other welterweight bouts have huge title implications. Carlos Condit was initially promised a title shot with a win over Tyron Woodley, but Dana White has since backed down from that stance. Now it seems that the most “impressive” winner of the main card’s welterweight fights will receive the next shot. With the new stipulation intact, fight fans can expect UFC 171’s welterweight contests to be among the best fights of the year. It’s only a matter of time before we find out who will be next for the winner of Lawler and Hendricks.
1. A New Champion.
Fight: Johny Hendricks vs. Robbie Lawler
Where to Watch: Pay-Per-View Main Event, 10 PM ET/ 7 PM PT
Johny Hendricks was one judge’s scorecard away from becoming the first UFC Welterweight Champion not named Georges St. Pierre since 2008. For the most part everyone who saw Hendricks battle GSP for 5 rounds came out of the fight feeling that Hendricks had done more than enough to defeat St. Pierre. Unfortunately for Hendricks, that wasn’t the case. On the same night that Hendricks thought he took the title, Robbie Lawler had one of the best performances of his career. Lawler soundly defeated St. Pierre’s training partner Rory MacDonald and put himself a top the list of future title challengers. Now, St. Pierre is now gone from the title picture and the UFC is without a Welterweight champion. That all changes tonight when Hendricks and Lawler meet in UFC 171’s main event. The winner of the bout will walk away with the Welterweight title and would be considered the best 170 pound fighter in the world. This is history in the making folks and you do not want to miss it.
For all of your UFC 171 coverage, visit SciFighting.com.