A welterweight championship bout headlined UFC 201, as reigning champion Robbie Lawler took on challenger Tyron Woodley, while in the co-main event Rose Namajunas took on Karolina Kowalkiewicz in a women’s strawweight contest, with the event taking place at Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia

The five fight main card began in the flyweight division, as Colombian Freddy Serrano(3-0) took on Ryan Benoit(8-4), with the former entering the bout as betting favourite to bag the win and extend his undefeated streak

Serrano was able to dominate the first round due to landing two takedowns, however Benoit was able to avoid any damage on the ground and get back to his feet, and was also able to land some decent strikes on his opponent as he won the first round 10-9

The second round was different however, as Serrano landed numerous takedowns throughout the round however just like the first round Benoit avoided sustaining any damage, though he didn’t come close to winning the round or landing anything on Serrano either standing or on the feet, with Serrano winning the round 10-9

The pace slowed in the first and final round, as Serrano, who had been the aggressor, seemed to tire and couldn’t complete his takedowns despite trying for a handful during the final round, while Benoit started to assert himself and become the aggressor

After going all three rounds, the judges gave the split decision victory to Benoit 28-29, 29-28, 29-28

The bantamweight division was up next, as Mexican Erik Perez(15-6) took on American Francisco Rivera(11-6-1NC)

Both fighters decided to stand and trade punches and kicks for the entirety of the first round, with Rivera getting slightly the better of the exchanges, though both were able to land some good left and right hooks in tandem with some solid body and leg kicks with the round being a close one though likely in favour of Rivera 10-9

The contest remained the same in the second round as both fighters kept the fight standing for the most part, with neither getting a meaningful advantage from the striking exchanges, though Perez was able to open a cut above the right eye of Rivera from a spinning back elbow, and was also able to get a takedown against the fence with twenty seconds left in the round, winning the round 10-9

Both fighters came out swinging wildly at the start of the third and final round, as Rivera waved Perez forward, calling and asking him to exchange in a haymaker brawl, with Perez obliging though neither of them could connect with a solid shot and instead the fight ending up taking place in the ground for the rest of the bout as the fight went the distance

Going to the judges’ scorecards, all three gave the fight to Perez via unanimous decision

Veteran Matt Brown(22-14, #9WW)) and Jake Ellenberger(30-11) were looking to climb further up the UFC welterweight rankings, with Brown entering their bout coming off a win in his last fight, while Ellenberger was looking to rebound from a defeat last time out

Ellenberger, betting underdog for the bout, landed a huge over-hand right hand almost immediately at the start of the first round that dropped Brown, however despite swarming and trying to finish him, Brown was able to defend and recover and even managed to rebound and comeback landing some punches of his own

Seconds later however Ellenberger landing a huge, brutal liver kick that rocked and dropped Brown, after which Ellenberger followed up and landed some ground and pound hammerfists on Brown who turtled-up and offered no resistance or defence before the referee stepped in and stopped the fight as Ellenberger bagged a big win which will see him catapult up the 170lbs rankings

In the co-main event, Rose Namajunas( 6-2, #3SW)was looking to possibly earn herself a strawweight championship bout next time out, as she took on Karolina Kowalkiewicz(9-0, #5SW), who, also with a impressive performance in this fight, could also earn herself a title opportunity next time out

The first round was a tentative one, with the fight taking place on the feet for the majority though neither was able to land any big shots however Namajunas was able to complete a takedown in the last thirty seconds of the round, which gave her the round 10-9

Kowalkiewicz had more success in the second round, as within the first two minutes the Polish fighter landed some good elbows and knees in the clinch both in the centre of the Octagon and clinches against the fence, with Kowalkiewicz winning the round 10-9 meaning things were all square going into the final round

Kowalkiewicz continued to pull ahead in the third round as the fight took place mostly on the feet, though the Polish fighter was also able to secure a takedown towards the end of the round and managed to control Namajunas on the ground via superior grappling whilst avoiding armbar and triangle choke attempts from Namajunas, as the bout went the distance

Proving what close fight it was, the judges gave the split decision victory to Karolina Kowalkiewicz, who with the win secured a title fight against divisional champion Joanna J?drzejczyk, with the fight being confirmed during the post-fight interview

Reigning welterweight champion Robbie Lawler(27-10-1NC) was looking to make the third successive title defense in the main event, while challenger Tyron Woodley(15-3, #4WW) was looking to bag the championship and build on a two-fight winning streak as well as defy the odds as betting underdog

Woodley was able to score the upset win, as after a tentative opening few minutes, Woodley landed a huge over-hand right to the jaw of Lawler that dropped him against the fence, after which Woodley followed up with some more punches before the referee stepped in and stopped the fight at 2:12 of the very first round as Woodley became the new UFC welterweight champion, also bagging a $50,000 ‘performance of the night’ bonus for his efforts

By Matthew Singh-Dosanjh