Media POV: How did they score the UFC 181 main event

UFC 181 - Johny Hendricks v Robbie Lawler
(Photo by Alex Trautwig/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Trautwig/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Trautwig/Getty Images)

One of the most anticipated fight cards of the year has come and gone.

UFC 181 invaded the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas and it definitely performed.

In the main event, Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler once again fought to a split decision in a five round war. After the judges scorecards were decided, Bruce Buffer read, “and new UFC Welterweight Champion Robbie Lawler.” It wasn’t the outcome many expected, especially with one judge scoring it 49-46 in favor of the new champ.

Media POV: How did they score the UFC 181 main event

I myself scored it 49-46 for the former champion Hendricks and a ton of the Twitterverse was like minded with Hendricks being the victor.

But you don’t want to hear my opinion – when a fight is as close as this one was, I like to get the media’s perspective on the bout.

Check out the way some members of the media scored the bout below.

Ian Bain (MMA Opinion) – I originally scored it for Hendricks 48-47, however after watching it again with no commentary, I scored it 48-47 for Lawler. Hendricks really let his foot off the gas in the last 2 rounds. He gets in to these close fights too often and inevitably, it is sometimes going to bite him in the backside.

Duane Finley (Bleacher Report) – I had it 48-47 for Johny Hendricks giving him 2,3,4. Could make a case for him getting the opening round as well. The clear round Lawler won was 5. Yet, the chaos that comes wtih MMA judging is secret guilty pleasure so it is what it is.

James Lynch (Sportsnet) – I had Hendricks winning rounds 2, 3, 4, with Lawler getting rounds 1, 5. Didn’t agree at all with the 49-46 Lawler scorecard but it was a close fight (not a robbery though). Felt like Lawler landed the better shots and Hendricks was just trying to hold on for the win. Didn’t have an issue with the decision despite the fact I thought Hendricks won.

Damon Martin (FOX Sports) – I had it 48-47 Hendricks but I don’t have a problem at all with the score being 48-47 Lawler. I had rounds 1 and 5 for Lawler so the only difference was round 4, which it seems most people scored for Lawler so in that case Lawler would win on my card as well. I thought the damage Lawler did early in round one out weighed Hendricks’ late takedown. Very close fight and I hope we get to see it for a third time.

Adam Martin (MMAOddsbreaker) – I had it 48-47 for Johny Hendricks. It was a close fight but I thought he landed more significant strikes and controlled enough of the fight with his wrestling to win three rounds.

Marc Raimondi (MMAFighting) – I had it Hendricks 48-47. I don’t know how one judge gave Lawler four rounds. I thought he won the first and the fifth. The fourth was close. Lawler finished strong. But if you look at the round as a whole, Hendricks did more. Lawler fought way better in the first fight. He was tentative here. Hendricks also didn’t do himself any favors by not finishing takedowns and apparent stalling in the fifth.

Mookie Alexander (BloodyElbow) – I had it 48-47 Hendricks. Rounds 2-4 for Hendricks and 1 and 5 for Lawler. There’s a case to be made that Lawler took round 4, and a lesser one for Hendricks rallying enough to win round 1. I believe Hendricks was the winner, but it’s not a terrible outcome that Lawler got the nod … except for the 49-46 Lawler scorecard, which should get Glenn Trowbridge fired.

Erik Fontanez (MMAWeekly) – I scored it 48-47 for Hendricks. Lawler I gave rounds 1 and 5, but outside of that I didn’t see him controlling the fight to justify the decision.

Kirik Jenness ( – I have reffed hundreds of fights and enjoyed thousands and thousands as a fan. Saturday I was just an ass in a seat. Speaking as a fan, I had Robbie winning 1 and 5, with Hendricks taking the middle 3 as Robbie did what appeared to be conserve his energy. I wanted Lawler to win, too, but I thought Hendricks won.

Hendricks overall had the more effective grappling, showed superior Octagon control, had better defense, was more aggressive, etc.

I am wicked happy I was apparently wrong.

Maybe the only thing we can all agree on is that Glenn Trowbridge needs to coherently justify his 49-46 score, or never judge MMA again. In California, judges for the big events tend to be at the very least say purple belts in BJJ. I would love to see Nevada move in the same direction. I am not sure it is possible to judge something, anything, with competence when you have no personal experience with it what so ever. The sport is now 21 years old; there is a wide, deep pool of individuals who know what they are doing. It’s time, to use them.

Lopati Panza (MMAMadhouse) – 48-47 Lawler, I gave the 1st round to Lawler he was aggressor, landed better strikes. Hendricks got takedown late, but did nothing with it. 2nd Round Hendricks he started working his combos and leading the dance. 3rd round Hendricks again Combos. 4th round Lawler he was able to land better strikes. 5th round Lawler clearly in his favor.favor. For everyone saying Hendricks won with grappling pushing a guy against cage and hiding your head under his balls is not fighting that is teabagging. After 25 minutes of fighting Lawler was not done and Hendricks couldn’t sit down quick enough.

Nick Kalikas (MMAOddsbreaker) – I thought we’d probably see 48-47 Hendricks at the end of the fight. Rd 1 I personally felt Lawler did enough early on to win the round but Hendricks closed the round strong enough to make things interesting. I thought Hendricks won Rd’s 2 & 3 and Lawler Rd’s 4 & 5. Rd 4 was really close but could see Lawler edging it out as Hendricks started to noticeably fade. Rd 5 was easiest to score for Lawler.

Michael Stets (MMAMania) – I initially thought it would be 48-47 Hendricks after it ended. I thought Lawler had fifth round definitely and the opening round. I’d like to re-watch it for a more accurate assessment though.

Carlin Bardsley (InTheCage) –
I scored the fight 48-47 Hendricks, giving him 2,3, and 4. That said, I don’t have a problem with a 48-47 Lawler scorecard. Hendricks had the fight in his grasp and gave it away, relying on positional control in the final frames and almost literally nothing more. I didn’t personally think Lawler stole the 4th with the GNP at the end but also can’t fault anyone who saw it that way. A really peculiar fight to watch with the different shifts in momentum. The only way to settle it is a rubber match. Sorry Rory.


Media Scoring Fight for Lawler: 3

Media Scoring Fight for Hendricks:11


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