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Monday Morning Hangover: Johny Hendricks comes up short in first title defense against Robbie Lawler

So much for that Chris Weidman "super fight."

Alex Trautwig/Getty Images

Another action-packed weekend of fisticuffs has come and gone as UFC 181 blew the roof off the Mandalay Bay Events Center this past weekend (Sat., Dec. 6, 2014) in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Plenty of fighters were left licking their wounds, including Gilbert Melendez, who was choked out by lightweight champion Anthony Pettis in the second round (video). And Brendan Schaub, who was stopped by Travis Browne via heavy ground-and-pound (recap).

But which fighter is suffering from the worst post-fight hangover now less than 48 hours removed from the show?

Johny Hendricks.

"Bigg Rigg" looked to defend his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweight title for the first time against Robbie Lawler, the very man he defeated nine months ago to claim the vacant strap. In doing so, he would erase any doubt that he indeed is the best 170-pound fighter in mixed martial arts (MMA).

Lawler, however, had his own agenda, as he spoiled Johny's party by outpointing the bearded-brawler in a tightly-contested five-round bout (video) that spurred a bit of controversy.

After it was all said and done, Lawler squeaked by with a split-decision win, the title, and some much-needed revenge after coming up short in his bid to capture the strap earlier this year in Dallas, Texas. While the decision was questionable and highly-debated, it wasn't exactly a highway robbery.

Yes, Hendricks looked to be the dominant fighter on the feet, landing one significant strike after another, thanks to a bevy of well-put together combinations that always found their mark.

But in the championship rounds, Hendricks admitted he "didn't fight," allowing "Ruthless" to swoop in and steal the bout. "Bigg Rigg" revealed after the fight that his body shut down due to a difficult weight cut, thus affecting his performance.

And it showed, too, as Hendricks' offense slowed, while Robbie's picked up, ending the third and fourth rounds with a flurry that was firmly etched in the minds of the judges. While the scores were brought into question (see them here), Hendricks didn't complain about the final decision.

The loss is without a doubt a crushing blow to Johny's career, but he can take some positives out of it. He now knows he can't allow himself to let his weight get out of hand in between fights; as he routinely balloons up to 200-210 pounds.

That's quite a gap for a man who has experienced trouble hitting the 170-pound mark in the past.

Also, though it's easier said than done, "Bigg Rigg" has to try to get back to his finishing ways, because leaving it in the hands of the judges is never the wisest thing to do, as his last three title fights were very close and could have gone either way, including his aforementioned classic against Lawler in "Big D."

As for what's next for Hendricks, a bout against the winner of the upcoming tilt between Tarec Saffiedine and Matt Brown -- which is scheduled to go down at UFC Fight Night 60 on Feb. 14, 2015 -- would be a good welcome back challenge.

Any objections?

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