Five more rounds of thunder.
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight Champion, Johny Hendricks, looks to defend his newly-acquired 170-pound title for the first time this Saturday (Dec. 6, 2014) when he faces knockout machine, Robbie Lawler, once again in the main event of UFC 181, which will emanate live from Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
In addition, Lightweight kingpin, Anthony Pettis, will return from injury for his first 155-pound title defense, too, facing former Strikeforce champion Gilbert Melendez in his first fight since Aug. 2013. Heavyweight bruisers Travis Browne and Brendan Schaub will also be in action as they try to rebound from recent losses.
That's not all.
First, we've got six "Prelims" under card matches on tap, two of which will stream online via Fight Pass and the rest will broadcast on FOX Sports 1.
Here's what's in store:
135 lbs.: Raquel Pennington vs. Ashlee Evans-Smith
Raquel Pennington (4-4) slugged her way past Jessamyn Duke in the quarterfinals of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 18, earning $25,000 for "Fight of the Season" in the process. After falling to Jessica Rakoczy, Pennington picked up a win over Roxanne Modafferi in her debut before falling to aggressive Brazilian Jessica Andrade by split decision.
Three of her four losses have come to current UFC members.
Ashlee Evans-Smith's (3-0) amateur career ended on a 1-4 skid, capped off by a five-second knockout loss to Veronica Rothenhausler. She’s found more success as a professional, earning two finishes in three fights, most notably upsetting Fallon Fox under the CFA banner.
She is a late replacement for former boxing champion Holly Holm.
Pennington should be very thankful that Holm was unable to compete because this is a significantly more winnable bout. Evans-Smith is less experienced than "Rocky" and had less than one month to prepare for the showdown.
Still, "winnable" just means it’s a possibility.
Pennington, though a capable boxer, had zero answers for the straightforward assault of Jessica Andrade and, at least early on, proved vulnerable to the takedown. Unless Evans-Smith is significantly debilitated by the late notice, she should be able to capitalize on Pennington’s willingness to give ground and wear her down over the course of three rounds.
Evans-Smith takes the decision in a fun fight.
Prediction: Evans-Smith via unanimous decision
Sergio Pettis (11-1) seemed fully-capable of living up to his hype after dispatching Will Campuzano in his Octagon debut. While a late submission loss to Alex Caceres put a damper on his rise, he re-entered the win column in June at the expense of MMA Lab product Yaotzin Meza.
The former Flyweight is four inches shorter than Matt Hobar (9-2), standing 5’6."
"The Crowbar," following a successful run in Legacy Fighting Championships, faced the brutal Pedro Munhoz in his UFC debut, losing via first-round technical knockout. He managed to right the ship at UFC Fight Night 49, grinding out Aaron Philips for his fourth win in five fights.
Four of his professional victories have come via submission.
Whether it’s his young age or a handicap that he’ll have to struggle with his whole career, the 21-year-old Pettis just doesn’t seem to have the stopping power his brother does. Compounded with his lack of size and middling wrestling, he’s going to have a hard time making the sort of impact his older brother, Anthony Pettis, did ... at least not with the same kind of speed.
Hobar, while limited, is the bigger man and a very capable wrestler, a combination that seems rather dangerous for "The Phenom." Pettis' footwork and striking acumen are a step above, but without the power he needs to support it, I don’t think he’ll be able to keep Hobar off of him.
"The Crowbar" grinds his way to an upset.
Prediction: Hobar via unanimous decision
Alex White (10-1) made an immediate UFC impression, flattening Estevan Payan in less than 90 seconds last April. In his second appearance, he faced fellow striker Lucas Martins, eventually falling to a brutal right hand after two competitive rounds.
The 6’0" White has only gone the distance once in his career.
Clay Collard (13-5) entered UFC as a late-notice replacement for Mirsad Bektic against the surging Max Holloway, competing on less than one week’s notice. Despite a valiant effort, including a flying switch kick that somehow managed to connect, Collard eventually succumbed to Holloway’s striking onslaught to snap a five-fight unbeaten streak.
Eight of his thirteen professional wins are by form of knockout.
This fight honestly has significant potential to steal the show ... at least on the "Prelims." White is a very capable striker and Collard packs the kind of ludicrous aggression I’m always glad to see. Even though Collard is dangerous, his attack doesn’t have the kind of cohesion a volume striker needs, making White my pick.
White seems like the heavier-handed of the two and the cleaner technician on the feet. I don’t anticipate the wrestling being a factor, so expect some entertaining striking action before White overwhelms him with power midway through the third round.
Prediction: White via third-round technical knockout
Three more UFC 181 "Prelims" fights to preview and predict tomorrow, including a pair of TUF winners and the latest from "The California Kid."
We'll have them for you, same time tomorrow, Maniacs.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 181 fight card below, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET, and then the remaining under card balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET before the PPV start time at 10 p.m. ET.