Hendricks, who admits he's still hungry to fight Georges St-Pierre again, thought his UFC 171 bout was going to end with first or second-round knockout.
It didn't quite work out that way, as Hendricks and Lawler slugged it out for five full rounds. Hendricks and Lawler were tied at two-all heading into the fifth round. "Big Rigg" closed out the win with a huge fifth round that included two big takedowns as time wound down.
Hendricks wasn't sure whether or not he'd be on the receiving end of the knockout, but he's happy he ended up walking away with the victory.
"Realistically, I thought we were both going to knock each other out in the first or the second round," Hendricks said of his UFC 171 fight with Lawler. "I didn't think we were going to go five. Definitely, as hard as he hit me in the third and fourth round, almost anybody else would've been out. For some reason, I have a thick skull. He hit me with some hard shots and I knew I had to come back in the fifth round.
"That's where I lost it in the GSP fight and I told myself that it wouldn't happen again."
Immediately following the win, Hendricks was already calling for a rematch with St-Pierre.
"I'd like to fight Georges again," said Hendricks. "I think it'd be fun. We had a good match. I think I'm better. I'm going to get stronger.
"I'm finding out that I need to be a little bit better with my accuracy. I have the power. I know that. But I just need to be a little bit more pinpoint where I'm throwing my punches, and hopefully everything comes back around."
While St-Pierre is enjoying retirement or at least a lengthy leave of absence from the sport, Nick Diaz, Tyron Woodley and Hector Lombard have all thrown their names in the mix for a title shot.
Take nothing away from Robbie, he fought hard too. We were out there and I was looking like, man, please call my name. Please call my name. They did, and it hasn't really sunk in yet, if that makes sense. I know this thing (the belt) is sitting in front of me, but that's the way it's always been for me. It'll take me a couple weeks before I look back and say, oh my God, I'm the UFC champ. I'll take it to heart and hopefully continue.
The UFC hasn't announced yet who will fight Hendricks next.