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UFC 171 Betting Notes

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Event: UFC 171
Date: March 15, 2014
Venue: American Airlines Center
City: Dallas, Texas

Welterweight Bout: Johny Hendricks (15-2) vs. Robbie Lawler (22-9)

Sportsbook.ag Line: Hendricks -500, Lawler +375

With Georges St-Pierre now retired, a new welterweight champion will be crowned on Saturday night in Dallas when Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler meet at UFC 171.

Hendricks is coming off a very controversial loss to St-Pierre at UFC 167 on Nov. 16 when he lost by way of split decision, but was the aggressor the entire match and really dominated the fight. Hendricks is a dangerous fighter, and has the ability to end a match at any given moment with his explosive striking ability. His last three knockout victories (all since 2011) have lasted a combined 2:33. Hendricks was very disappointed with how his last match ended, but has a chance to get the belt back. It will not be easy though, as Lawler’s nickname “Ruthless” describes him perfectly. His last fight was also at UFC 167, when he won a split decision against Rory MacDonald for his third straight victory. Like Hendricks, Lawler can be absolutely devastating with his punches. His previous eight victories had been by knockout, including a vicious kick and punch combo against Bobby Voelker on July 27.

"Bigg Rigg" Hendricks has 15 victories in his career, with eight wins coming by knockout, six via decision, and the other coming by submission. He has won six of his past seven bouts, and of his nine finishes, five have come in the first round. Despite the lack of submission wins, Hendricks is a talented wrestler that has the ability to take his opponent to the ground. He was a two-time national champion wrestler at Oklahoma State University and has a takedown average of 4.77 compared to only 1.28 for Lawler. These takedowns play a huge role in the fights that he has won by decision. However, his specialty is to knock out his opponent. The 30-year-old Hendricks lands 3.14 significant strikes per minute, compared to just 2.91 for Lawler. His ability to knock out his opponent makes him dangerous at all times, and he should have the backing of the crowd, as he currently fights out of Dallas and hails from Ada, OK, which is just 150 miles north of Big D. If Hendricks is able to come out and not let the St-Pierre decision linger, he has a great chance to prove why he is such a heavy favorite and win the fight.

Lawler has 22 victories in his career, with 18 of them coming by way of knockout. He also has three victories by decision, as well as one by submission. Of these 19 finishes, 12 occurred in the first round. Although Lawler has been a pro since 2001, he is only 31 years old. While he averages as many takedowns as Hendricks, he is much more accurate when it comes to taking his opponent down, converting on 68% of his attempts, compared to 50% from Hendricks. The key in this match will be how Lawler picks his spots against Hendricks. Both men have the ability to knock out their opponent, but the problem for Lawler is that Hendricks is better at it. But Lawler is the better defender of significant strikes (64% to 57%) and he cannot allow Hendricks to get into a rhythm early. Lawler must be the aggressor with his two-inch height advantage (5-foot-11 to 5-foot-9) and play to his strengths, rather than try and change his gameplan.

Carlos Condit (29-7) vs. Tyron Woodley (12-2)

Sportsbook.ag Line: Condit -200, Woodley +165

Carlos Condit looks to earn a future championship bout as he goes up against the always dangerous Tyron Woodley at UFC 171 in Dallas on Saturday night.

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Condit is one of the elite fighters in the UFC, and bounced back from a two-match losing skid with a knockout victory against Martin Kampmann on Aug. 28. His two losses were by unanimous decision to Johny Hendricks and Georges St-Pierre, two of the very best fighters in the sport. Now with St-Pierre retiring, Condit should be next in line to fight whoever wins Saturday's welterweight title bout between Hendricks and Robbie Lawler. Condit has the ability to knock his opponent out, but is just as likely to submit his opponent. This versatility is very rare for a fighter in this sport, making him extremely dangerous to gameplan for. But to get another title shot, he will have to defeat a fighter in Woodley that can also win a match in many different ways. Woodley is coming off a knockout victory over Josh Koscheck, who he knocked out in the first round at UFC 167 on Nov. 16.

Condit has 29 victories in his career, and has shown the ability to win in many different ways. He has 14 wins by knockout, while also recording 13 by submission and two by decision. "The Natural Born Killer" has now won six of his past eight fights, dominating Kampmann in his most recent bout with a striking advantage of 100-35. The 29-year-old Condit will have a striking advantage in this match too, averaging 3.24 significant strikes per minute compared to Woodley's 2.71 significant strikes per minute. He is also the better strike defender (58%) compared to Woodley (52%). In addition to a whopping five-inch height advantage over his Saturday opponent, another edge for the 6-foot-2 Condit is that he has been in big matches in his career. In that loss to St.-Pierre, he was competing for the welterweight belt, and he will be hungry to get back to that point in his career. If he is able to come out and take control of this fight early, Condit should have no problem winning. However, if he allows Woodley to get into some rhythm in the first round, Woodley has the athleticism and the physical tools to pull off the upset.

Of his 12 career victories, "The Chosen One" Woodley has an even distribution of wins between knockouts, submissions and decisions, earning four wins by each method. But of his eight finishes, seven have occurred in the first round. That includes his domination in his last match against Koscheck, showing that he also has the ability to knock out his opponent quickly. While he does not land as many strikes as Condit, he is significantly more accurate when he throws his punches (57% accuracy, compared to 40% for Condit). The 31-year-old St. Louis native also has a major advantage when it comes to grappling, averaging 2.18 takedowns compared to just 0.56 takedowns for Condit. Woodley is terrific defending against the takedown, defending 94% of his opponents' takedown attempts, compared to 41% for his opponent. He has the athleticism and strength to compete with Condit, but has to be on the lookout for Condit trying to end this match with one punch. If Woodley is able to take this match into the later rounds, then he has a chance to send an emphatic message to the rest of the UFC.

Jake Shields (29-6-1) vs. Hector Lombard (33-4-1)

Sportsbook.ag Line: Lombard -200, Shields +165

Jake Shields will look to get his fourth consecutive victory at Saturday's UFC 171, but it will not be easy as he is going up against a dangerous fighter in Hector Lombard.

Shields is an extremely talented fighter with the conditioning to go toe-to-toe with any fighter in the sport. Seven of his past eight matches have gone the distance, with the only exception being a knockout loss in 53 seconds to Jake Ellenberger on Sept. 17, 2011. But Shields hasn't lost since that quick defeat, going 3-0 with a no-contest. In his most recent match on Oct. 9, Shields won a grueling fight against Demian Maia by way of split decision. At UFC 161 five months earlier, he also won by way of split decision over Tyron Woodley. While Shields' cardio is terrific, allowing him to survive a long, grueling fight, he will have to be ready for a brawl against Lombard. In his last match against Nate Marquardt at UFC 166 on Oct. 19, Lombard won by knockout in just 1:48. He is a very strong fighter for his 170-pound frame, with elite knockout power.

Lombard has 33 victories in his career, with 19 of them coming by way of knockout. He also has seven wins by submission and seven others by decision. All four of his career losses have also come by way of decision. He has tremendous power in his strikes, and when he connects (40% accuracy, 38% for Shields) it can spell the end of the match for his opponent. Shields has shown the ability throughout his career to win a match by submitting his opponent, but the Cuban-born Lombard does a great job of not allowing his opponent to take him to the ground. In his career, he has a takedown defense rate of 75%. If the 36-year-old Lombard is able to control the fight and keep it on the ground, he should be in great shape because Shields cannot compete with Lombard’s punching power.

Of his 29 career victories, 16 of Shields’ wins (55%) have come by decision. With his cardio and his intelligence, he is able to stay in the fight the entire match, and does not get away from his game plan even when things start to go bad for him. The 35-year-old also has finishing ability with 10 wins by submission and three knockout victories. While Shields, who is 18-2 in his past 20 bouts, lands more significant strikes per minute than Lombard (2.59 to 2.35), he does not want to allow the match to turn into a brawl. Lombard does a great job defending against the takedown, but Shields, who has a three-inch height advantage in this fight, is very good at taking his opponent down. He averages 3.01 takedowns (1.15 for Lombard), and can do a great job of wearing his opponent out when he gets them to the mat. This is the type of matchup where both fighters have different strengths, and whichever man is able to effectively fight within his style should be able to get the victory.

UFC 171 - Other Bouts

Featherweight Bout:
Daniel Pineda (-240)
Robert Whiteford (+180)

Middleweight Bout:
Robert McDaniel (+110)
Sean Strickland (-140)

Flyweight Bout:
Will Campuzano (+350)
Justin Scoggins (-485)

Lightweight Bout:
Renee Forte (-130)
Frank Trevino (+100)

Welterweight Bout:
Sean Spencer (+310)
Alex Garcia (-400)

Featherweight Bout:
Dennis Bermudez (-240)
Jimy Hettes (+180)

Women's Bantamweight Bout:
Raquel Pennington (+220)
Jessica Andrade (-280)

Welterweight Bout:
Kelvin Gastelum (-180)
Rick Story (+150)

Light Heavyweight Bout:
Ovince St. Preux (-365)
Nikita Krylov (+305)

Lightweight Bout:
Diego Sanchez (+150)
Myles Jury (-170)

  
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