The last time UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler and top contender Rory MacDonald met in the Octagon was at UFC 167 in November 2013 and while they were battling it out, Johny Hendricks was in the back warming up for his main event matchup against Georges St-Pierre.
Hendricks watched the bout as much as he could because his real focus was on fighting for the welterweight title later the same night, but when it was over he definitely scored Lawler as the winner. The judges agreed and gave Lawler the victory by split decision over MacDonald.
Looking back at the first fight, Hendricks now admits the scoring was much closer in reality than it was in his head that night, but ultimately the right person still came away with the win.
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"Realistically when I rewatched the (first) fight, it was closer than I thought it was," Hendricks told FOX Sports. " ‘Cause when you’re in the back watching, you’re warming up, you’re doing all this stuff and every time I looked up it looked like Robbie was dominating Rory MacDonald.
"But whenever I went back and rewatched it that night I thought it was a lot closer than it was until that knockdown. That knockdown really saved Robbie."
I think once Robbie hits him, Rory’s going to step back into his normal routine and I think Robbie might win this fight again
— Johny Hendricks
Now Lawler and MacDonald are set to do it all over again with the title up for grabs in July at UFC 189 and Hendricks has a vested interest in the outcome much more than the first time around.
Hendricks faces Matt Brown at UFC 185 this weekend and with a win he will likely face the winner of Lawler vs. MacDonald later this year.
The rematch between Lawler and MacDonald will be a five-round fight this time as opposed to the last matchup, which was only 15 minutes in duration. Hendricks sees the fight playing out a couple of different ways but he believes there’s one key to breaking down Lawler if MacDonald hopes for a different outcome the second time around.
"Robbie might be a little too active. Meaning, Rory MacDonald’s going to be throwing his jabs and those kinds of things. He’s a lot like GSP because that is his main training partner and everything so he’s a lot like that. He’s very particular on how he wants to advance and when you’re fighting somebody who doesn’t care like Robbie, you’re going to have to hit him with something that makes him not want to advance," Hendricks explained.
"Whenever I rewatch my fights, that’s what I had to do. I had to do stuff to make him not want to advance. If Rory goes in there and tries to do that, it could help him."
The outcome in the second fight could be just as close as the first, but Hendricks sees the difference in Lawler’s power shots vs. MacDonald’s chin and uneasiness taking punches.
"I think once Robbie hits him, Rory’s going to step back into his normal routine and I think Robbie might win this fight again," Hendricks said.
Hendricks will certainly be front and center for the Lawler vs. MacDonald fight in July if he can get past Brown this weekend and set up another shot at taking home the UFC welterweight title.