Rather than wait for an immediate opportunity to reclaim the Welterweight belt that he lost to Robbie Lawler several months ago, Johny Hendricks returned to the Octagon tonight (Sat., March 14, 2015) to battle Matt Brown at UFC 185 from American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.
It turned out to be a good idea.
Brown rocketed out of his corner, but was quickly dumped by Hendricks after a big slam. It didn't last long, though, as Brown got back his feet seconds later. Brown unloaded a combination, but Hendricks ducked under and eventually used the momentum to score another takedown. Hendricks mushed Brown into the bottom of the cage, but was unable to get much going thanks to great wrist control.
Brown eventually got his legs wrapped around Hendricks' neck, threatened with a triangle, and the action was soon back in the center of the cage. Brown, bleeding, fired off several more shots before Hendricks put him on his back once again. Brown, clearly frustrated, headed back to his corner down one round.
Once again, Brown came out of his corner on fire, landing a hook before finding himself on his back again. After a scramble, and another exchange, Hendricks once again dumped Brown on his back in the center of the cage and angled for a triangle choke. He didn't get it, but a raking elbow and hammer fists found their marks.
After several minutes on the ground, the referee stood them up and Brown was able to land a few good shots before Hendricks started to get off, all of which set up another takedown. Hendricks landed a big left hook that appeared to hurt Brown, but he kept on charging forward regardless.
Round ended with Hendricks on top, up two rounds to zero.
Third and final frame and Brown was well aware that he needed a finish to earn a victory. Hendricks slipped early, but Brown was unable to capitalize. With Brown just emptying his clip, Hendricks dove in for -- and secured -- another takedown. And then another, as Brown was warned once again for unfairly grabbing the fence.
Hendricks just smothered Brown for most of the round, who missed on two inverted triangle chokes -- seemingly his only offense from bottom position. With about one minute left, Brown fired away hammer fists from bottom position and they landed -- perhaps his best moment of the match. Undeterred, Hendricks continued to blanket Brown until the round ended.
In the end, it was a successful strategy for Hendricks, who preserved his No. 1 contender ranking with perhaps his most wrestle-heavy gameplan inside the Octagon thanks to a unanimous decision win over the ultra-tough Brown.
He wasn't happy with it, but it worked.
For complete results from UFC 185: "Pettis vs. Dos Anjos," including play-by-play updates, click here.