On December, 6th 2014 Lawler pulled a split decision victory over Johny Hendricks. Like the judges, the fans where split; many divided by their fan-boy biases and others by the ferocity of the final round. I look back on the stats and see Lawler landed 22 more total strikes and 5 more significant strikes than Hendricks. Over five rounds that doesn’t seem like much a difference. Hendricks shined with 5 successful takedowns and over 10 minutes of control; compared to Lawler’s 1 minute of control and 0 takedowns, one can assess Hendricks took a pretty big lead there. I mean 10 minutes of control is 2 entire rounds! Now when we get into individual rounds it gets interesting. Lawler lead in significant strikes landed in the first and last rounds of the fight. Hendricks, on the other hand, led in strikes the second, third, and fourth round. After re-watching the fight, I recall having a similar feeling as when first viewing it: that Hendricks was playing it safe and Lawler had been very unsuccessful until he went for broke the last round.
If we are looking at fighters as athletes (which of course they are) one would think we would judge and reward them based off their consistency and effectiveness. If we look at them as entertainers (which they are) one would think we would judge them on their aggression and showmanship. There has to be a line though, somewhere in there, where we don’t get caught up in the intensity of a fighter swinging fences, and, in turn, lose sight of the one striking him out. I can’t say undoubtedly that Lawler should have lost that fight. I am aware judging is grey and we must respect the rules of the sport, but still I can’t stop questioning it.