Johny Hendricks (Otoe Tribe) vs. Robbie Lawler 2 headlines UFC 181

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With Weidman vs. Belfort postponed, the UFC has created an entirely new main event for UFC 181: Johny Hendricks  (Otoe-Missouria Tribe) will make the first defense of his welterweight title against Robbie Lawler.

UFC officials confirmed the matchup to FOX Sports on Monday, with verbal agreements in place from both fighters.

Hendricks is returning a little earlier than expected after surgery to repair a torn bicep. The champion was expected to be out until early 2015, but it appears with the UFC in need Hendricks will answer the call. As for Lawler, he immediately accepted the date and location for the rematch.

The first fight between Hendricks and Lawler was one of the best of the year. Hendricks eked out a decision victory in a hard-fought battle with Lawler after five grueling rounds. Now, the two welterweights will do it all over again.

As for Weidman vs. Belfort, the UFC is planning on the middleweight title bout shifting to February, but nothing will be certain until the champion’s hand is cleared and he can get back into training.

UFC 181 also will feature the lightweight title bout between Anthony Pettis and Gilbert Melendez in the co-main event.