UFC-Tonight-logoOn UFC TONIGHT, host Kenny Florian and guest host Kenny Florian preview UFC 181: HENDRICKS VS. LAWLER 2 and interview current champions Johny Hendricks and Anthony Pettis. Plus, Helwani and Bryant add reports.

UFC TONIGHT Guest Host Michael Bisping on Johny Hendericks vs. Robbie Lawler: “This is a fight of the year candidate for sure. You want to talk about a guy who’s hungry and motivated for the title? Robbie Lawler is going to give Johny Hendricks a fight for his life. But Hendricks is the best wrestler in the division and has great knock-out power. In the fifth round in the last fight, Hendricks showed why he’s the champion. It was a ridiculously close fight and he showed true grit and determination with a takedown that won him that fight. With Hendricks, you get both wrestling and the knockout power.”

UFC TONIGHT Host Kenny Florian on Lawler’s improvements and Hendricks’ layoff: “Lawler has completely revitalized his career with the technique he’s added to his arsenal. He’s still hungry. That last round of the last title fight has really been eating at him. He wants to get the win and the title. He continues to evolve and you don’t usually see that for a guy in this stage of his career. For Hendricks, that long layoff might hinder him. Hendricks has been a champion since high school wrestling. He just finds a way to win. He went into the last fight with a torn bicep, but he found a way to win.”

Johny Hendricks on if his healed bicep will enable him to wrestle more this time: “I’m definitely going to threaten him with it. I don’t go in with the wrestling mentality. I try to set things up, if opportunity is there, yeah, I need to threaten him with that. In the last fight, he got a little confident thinking he could defend my takedowns.”

Hendricks on what will be different this fight with Lawler: “He’s a very tough fighter, has heart, has good movement and was well prepared for that fight. Hopefully, I can showcase better skills this time and get a better win.”

Hendricks on if the layoff will hurt him: “I’m used to competing all my life. In college wrestling, we’d have a four month layoff and then had come back and be well prepared. Sometimes you come back at your best when you have that time off and time to get refocused.”

Florian on Anthony Pettis vs. Gilbert Melendez: “Anthony Pettis made it look easy against Benson Henderson. When the lights go up, he shows up. He wants to get a big win against Gilbert. Gilbert can’t make it a technical war. Melendez has the chin to make it a scrap, make it ugly against him.”

Bisping on Pettis vs. Melendez: “Pettis has the best kicking game in the business and has submissions as well. There’s no better fight for him than to fight Gilbert. Melendez was the most dominant Strikeforce champion in history. He lost a razor thin decision to Benson Henderson and he has a great style to push the pace against Pettis, get him against fence, take him down and to make it all out war.”

Anthony Pettis on if coaching against Melendez on The Ultimate Fighter made him want to fight him more: “When you sign the contract it makes me want to punch him in the face. There wasn’t really any animosity on the show. He’s a professional, but at the end of the day, he’s trying to take my belt.”

Pettis on what he learned from watching Melendez fight Benson Henderson: “I’m fan of mixed martial arts. I’ve been watching Gilbert for a long time. Henderson’s style is totally different from mine. I picked up a few things when I’m in the southpaw stance, some habits he has. Ultimately, it’s my style versus his style.”

Pettis on if he’ll finish Melendez in the first round: “He’s one of the best in the world, but I’m the best. I’m aiming for the first round. In the last three fights, I haven’t been out of the first round.”

Pettis on his plans for next year: “I need to defend this belt a couple of times. There are a lot of guys who want to fight for it and it’s only fair that a champ defends it. It’s smart healthy camps from here on out and building my legacy in the sport.”

UFC TONIGHT Insider Ariel Helwani on Julianna Pena’s recovery: “I talked to her coach, and he says she’s made an amazing recovery. If it were up to him, she could be back in January, but she’s expected to return in March. He says on a week’s notice, she can beat anyone in the division not named Ronda Rousey.”

Helwani on Jon Jones reuniting with his wrestling coach: “Before his fight against Glover, Jon Jones had falling out with longtime wrestling coach Israel Martinez, but didn’t really need him for Glover. But now he’s back for Daniel Cormier. They needed the best wrestling coach to prepare for this fight.”

Helwani on Conor McGregor going Hollywood: “His manager told me that there are some movie deals in the works, but they’ll focus on those after his fight in January.”

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