If only the last two minutes of the main event had gone differently, American Top Team would have had a real problem on their hands: a champion and two top contenders in the same division. It was not to be, as Robbie Lawler faded in those last moments, allowing Johny Hendricks to scrape by and capture the UFC welterweight championship.
But the vaunted gym still has some potential drama brewing, as Tyron Woodley and Hector Lombard both emerged victorious at UFC 171, beating Carlos Condit and Jake Shields, respectively.
Afterward, each man made their own plea for a title shot.
You guys fail to realize that I’m in this to be a world champion.
- Tyron Woodley
"You guys fail to realize that I’m in this to be a world champion," Woodley said in the post-fight press conference. "I went after the top guy. Everyone was so quiet and I blew [Dana White’s] phone up until he probably couldn’t take it anymore, because I want to be the world champion. I think that alone, that persistence, warrants me a world title shot. Me and Johny Hendricks got some old, unfinished business from the Big 12 days of wrestling. I would love to get my hands on him, and I think it’s a crazy fight."
Woodley’s win came at 2:00 of the second round, but on a bizarre ending. Woodley kicked Condit in the left leg, but as Condit landed on his right leg, it gave out on him, and he couldn’t continue. Though it is officially ruled a TKO, the finish left some unsatisfied.
On the other hand, Woodley clearly won round one, landing several hard right hands and scoring two takedowns.
"It wasn’t like he came in with a previous injury," Woodley said. "It came from a double leg takedown. I saw he was hurt and I went for the finish. I think I was dominating the fight, and that’s a tough guy to dominate in general."
Refusing to be out-campaigned, Lombard later hijacked the press conference spotlight, interrupting a questioner to make his own pitch for the spot ahead of his teammate.
"I would like to get that piece," Lombard said, eying Hendricks’ shiny new possession. "I beat the guy that was calling for the right to get the belt because he had four wins. I believe that now that Robbie is out of the picture, I can be a tough challenge for him."
Who’s next though? Perhaps one of them, or perhaps neither. UFC president Dana White was unmoved by their stumping, saying he had no idea what was next for Hendricks.
Looks like some awkward times may be ahead at ATT.
I’m not that type of person. I always called the champ out because I wanted to be him. Now that I’m him, I keep my mouth shut, and go on my business.
- Johny Hendricks
"I’m not going to call anybody else out," he said. "I’m not that type of person. I always called the champ out because I wanted to be him. Now that I’m him, I keep my mouth shut, and go on my business."
Chief among his thoughts was his fifth-round strategy.
"The jab was working but I wanted to stop him," he said "Maybe I should have doubled up and came with more crosses. I need to watch the tape but I was looking to stop him. I wanted the finish and I just didn’t get it."
Lawler had his moments, wobbling Hendricks in the third, but despite putting him in dangerous, the renowned finisher couldn’t stop him.
"I saw his legs buckle a little bit but he recovered pretty fast and was throwing back," he said. "He’s a dangerous opponent. Once again, maybe I should have pressed a little bit more and taken the fight to him a little bit earlier."