Woodley takes welterweight strap from Lawler with 1st-round KO
For the seventh time in 2016, Bruce Buffer announced a new champion Saturday night at Philips Arena in Atlanta. Tyron Woodley scored a first-round knockout victory over Robbie Lawler with an explosive overhand right to capture the welterweight title as a short underdog in the UFC 201 main event.
Lawler, who had won eight of his previous nine fights and emerged victorious from several of the most thrilling MMA fights in the sport’s history, opened as a -280 favorite at many books a few months ago. Just 72 hours prior to the fight, Lawler remained a favorite north of -200. But by Friday afternoon, Lawler was down to -150 and he ended up closing at -120 at a few offshore shops.
Gamblers backing the ‘under’ (2.5 rounds) cashed a nice +145 ticket. Several proposition bets on Woodley paid sweet returns, including for him to win inside the distance (+288), by KO/TKO (+280) and in Round 1 (+650).
When asked about fighting top contender Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson, who had predicted and hoped for a Lawler win because he felt that would create for an exciting title fight, Woodley said that Thompson can fight Lawler now since that’s what he wanted. Woodley indicated he’d rather fight GSP or Nick Diaz.
Meanwhile, on Monday in a vintage Diaz rant to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, he explained that there really aren’t any ‘superstars’ on his level to fight right now. Nevertheless, if the UFC blew him away with an offer, he’d be ready to fight as early as UFC 202 later this month (yes the same card headlined by his brother Nate in a rematch against Conor McGregor). Nick’s 18-month suspension ended earlier this week.
Lawler was graceful in defeat. He told Joe Rogan, “It is what it is. He feinted me, my hands went down and he threw a punch over the top and caught me. I expected that kind of stuff, but I was sitting back a little too much, not moving, and he took advantage.”
Lawler took home a $500,000 paycheck. Woodley earned $390,000 after factoring in his 50K bonus for Performance of the Night.
In the co-main event, Karolina Kowalkiewicz captured a split-decision win over Rose Namajunas as a +165 underdog. The Polish strawweight remained unbeaten and might’ve earned a title shot. The judge that gave Namajunas the nod on his card should never be allowed to keep score again.
In a welterweight contest, Jake Ellenberger snapped out of a 1-5 slump to hand Matt Brown the first KO loss of his career. ‘The Juggernaut’ didn’t even need two minutes to score the upset win as a +255 underdog. Brown fell to 1-4 in his last five fights. ‘The Immortal’ had ripped off a seven-fight winning streak before hitting this recent slump.
I cashed my biggest ticket (4 units) on the ‘under’ (1.5 rounds) for Brown-Ellenberger, but I certainly didn’t envision it going down like that. Fortunately for Brown, he recently inked an eight-fight contract because 1-4 slumps aren’t usually good for one’s spot on the UFC roster. However, we should note that three of the L’s came to Lawler, Johny Hendricks (before his recent demise) and third-ranked Demian Maia, so his roster spot is safe.
Nikita Krylov is on the rise in the 205-pound loop, winning his fifth consecutive fight by taking out Ed ‘Short Fuse’ Herman with a head-kick KO 40 seconds into Round 2. The 24-year-old Krylov cashed tickets as a -240 ‘chalk.’ I had two units on the ‘under,’ which was a winner. With that said, this was only the third time in 25 career fights that Krylov had one of his fights go beyond the opening round.
Ellenberger pocketed the other Performance of the Night bonus, while the ladies in the co-main took Fight of the Night honors.
There’s a Fight Night on Fox Sports 1 this weekend. Then the promotion takes one weekend off before Diaz-McGregor II on Aug. 20.