With uncertainty amongst UFC champions in recent years, Robbie Lawler quietly became the second-most tenured champion in the promotion behind only Demetrious Johnson in days holding the belt. That was, until his American Top Team counterpart Tyron Woodley stepped into the cage with him at UFC 201.
What started as a slow fight in the Philips Arena in Atlanta, ended in a hurry when an overhand right from Woodley caught Lawler, dropping the champ and crowning a new king of the welterweight division.
In the post-fight press conference, Woodley wasted no time in making it clear who he wanted to fight, and he was only thinking of his bank account when he listed Nick Diaz, who comes off suspension in two days, and Georges St-Pierre, who is mulling coming out of retirement.
The fight of the night was the co-main event between Rose Namajunas and Karolina Kowalkiewicz, two strawweights who put on a technical and thrilling show. Kowalkiewicz got the win, and analyst Joe Rogan said she would fight Joanna Jedrzejczyk for the title next. In the post-fight press conference Kowalkiewicz called out Joanna, insinuating that she was afraid of her Polish rival.
The event as a whole had a good mixture of knockouts, stunning upsets and entertainment with the occasional Conor McGregor promotional video sprinkled in.
Stars Of The Night
1. Tyron Woodley - Knocked out the welterweight champ in the first round to claim the belt, unseating a dominant opponent.
2. Jake Ellenberger - He came into UFC 201 with his back against the wall and his future with the company in jeopardy with a single win in his last six fights. He knocked down Matt Brown seconds into their matchup but couldn't get the finish, having two wait almost two minutes to seal the deal with a live kick.
3. Wilson Reis - He was supposed to fight Johnson for the flyweight title, but injuries changed plans. Instead, he came in and set a record for quickest submission in the history of the division.
1. Kowalkiewicz will fight Jedrzejczyk for the strawweight title. While many presumed this was a title fight eliminator bout, it wasn't officially labeled as such. This fight could potentially be at the UFC pay-per-view in Manchester, England or the New York City card.
2. No champion is safe in the UFC. Lawler was always viewed as somewhat indestructible and he had weathered some wars during his second stint in the UFC before Tyron Woodley shook up the world.
3. Women's fights continue to be some of the most entertaining in the UFC. The Kowalkiewicz–Namajunas bout was technical, beautiful and entertaining. The fight went to decision and the result was still up in the air and could've gone either way.
Damien Brown drops Cesar Arzamendia for the second time in the first round and finishes him off with the ground-and-pound to end the fight.
Wilson Reis got the submission win with a first-round rear naked choke.
Jorge Masvidal dropped Ross Pearson, but could not finish him.
Nikita Krylov knocked out Ed Herman with a vicious head kick.
Ellenberger knocked down Brown early but struggled to finish.
Finish Of The Night
Anthony Hamilton destroyed Damian Grabowski in 14 seconds. It was the second fastest knockout in UFC heavyweight history.
Bonuses Of The Night
Fight Of The Night: Namajunas vs. Kowalkiewicz
Performance Of The Night: Ellenberger and Woodley
Tyron Woodley - His win was impressive but who gets the next title shot. Stephen Thompson is who logic would dictate is the next in line if you judged off of form. Carlos Condit would be another intriguing match up, and some said Condit should have gotten an immediate rematch with Lawler after his title fight loss at UFC 195. Woodley of course said Thompson can fight Lawler and named Nick Diaz and Georges St-Pierre as opponents he wants to fight.
Karolina Kowalkiewicz - An impressive win over the tough Rose Namajunas. Joe Rogan said she was is fighting Joanna Jedrzejczyk next for the belt, and there isn't a better match up there. There are two cards that make sense for this fight, Jedrzejczyk campaigning to fight in New York City because of the Polish population. What about two Polish fighters squaring off for a title in Madison Square Garden?
Tyron Woodley def. Robbie Lawler via first-round KO (2:12)
Karolina Kowalkiewicz def. Rose Namajunas via split decision
Jake Ellenberger def. Matt Brown via first-round TKO (1:46)
Erik Perez def. Francisco Rivera via unanimous decision
Ryan Benoit def. Fredy Serrano via split decision
Nikita Krylov def. Ed Herman via second-round KO (0:40)
Jorge Masvidal def.Ross Pearson via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Anthony Hamilton def. Damian Grabowski via first-round KO (0:14)
Wilson Reis def. Hector Sandoval via first-round submission (rear-naked choke) (1:49)
Michael Graves vs. Bojan Velickovic declared a majority draw (30-27, 28-28, 28-28)
Damien Brown def. Cesar Arzamendia via first-round TKO (2:27)
Next up is UFC Fight Night 92 on Saturday, August 6 in Salt Lake City. The main event of that card is a featherweight battle between Yair Rodriguez and Alex Caceres, though it will mostly be overshadowed by UFC 202 which is three weeks away. That event, being held at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, features the rematch between Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz in the headlining bout.
Aside from that huge bout, it is a stacked card. Former light heavyweight title contender and currently second-ranked Anthony Johnson faces No. 3 Glover Teixeira in the co-main event, while Donald Cerrone returns to the cage to face Rick Story in a welterweight bout. Eighth-ranked Cody Garbrandt fights No. 11 Takeya Mizugaki in a bantamweight bout.