Johny Hendricks made his claim as the No. 1 contender to George St-Pierre's belt with a quick knockout of Martin Kampmann at UFC 154.
However, the question is, will he get the championship fight? GSP may end up taking on Anderson Silva in a superfight in 2013, and that would put Hendricks on the shelf for a long time should he wait.
When looking at potential fighters who could make a claim at being a top-10 opponent, Hendricks holds a victory over them or they are coming off a loss. It narrows the list of potential opponents down considerably.
These are five fighters Johny Hendricks could take on in his next bout inside the Octagon.
Siyar Bahadurzada is riding a seven-fight win streak and made a splash in his UFC debut with a massive knockout of Paulo Thiago.
Bahadurzada may not be a top-10 welterweight right now, but he is on the brink and there are not many top-10 welterweights Hendricks hasn't already defeated. This could be a great option for Hendricks should GSP take the fight against Silva.
For Bahadurzada, it would be a phenomenal opportunity to make a statement and put himself in to title discussions.
Hendricks' options are limited should GSP take the superfight, and Bahadurzada could be one of the best options for an opponent if that happens.
December 8 will be the date we get to watch Rory MacDonald and BJ Penn go toe-to-toe inside the cage.
The winner of that fight would make for a great challenger to Hendricks, and a MacDonald vs. Hendricks matchup would be a for sure title eliminator.
MacDonald has been compared to his teammate GSP and has a similar style. Should he defeat Penn and meet Hendricks, it would give the world a small glimpse in to how Hendricks vs. GSP could play out.
A Penn vs. Hendricks fight would be a chance for Hendricks to defeat a legend of the sport.
Either fight would be great for Hendricks. He should be paying attention to that FOX showdown in early December because he could be meeting the winner early in 2013.
Nick Diaz will be allowed back inside the Octagon in early 2013 and would be a fantastic fight for Hendricks.
Diaz is a durable and talented welterweight. Could he handle the power and wrestling of Hendricks? A question that would surely get answered in the opening minutes of the fight.
For Diaz, a win would put him right back in line for the rivalry fight against GSP. A fight fans would surely love to see.
Sure, Diaz is coming off the loss to Condit, but it was a close loss. Diaz is still in the mix to be considered one of the top five welterweights in the world. The fight makes sense for all.
And most of all, it would be an entertaining fight between the two world-class welterweights.
— Jake Ellenberger (@EllenbergerMMA) November 18, 2012
I am a sucker for stipulations like this. They make the lead up to the fight fun.
Ellenberger is coming off a decision victory over Jay Hieron and is trying to get his name back in the mix. His only loss since 2009 came at the hands of Martin Kampmann.
The fight may not be too enticing for Hendricks until Ellenberger gets another win or two, but for the fans, it would be exciting.
Two strong, powerful wrestlers going at it with the possibility for one to be retired. For some fans, it may be too much like pro wrestling, but storylines do make fights more interesting. Could Ellenberger save his career with a win and put himself back in the upper echelon of the division?
I'd be willing to pay to find out.
If GSP turns down the fight with Anderson Silva, then the choice is clear. We must see Hendricks vs. GSP for the UFC Welterweight Championship.
Hendricks' emphatic win made it clear who the top contender is. There is no question.
His wrestling credentials are better than that of both Fitch and Koscheck, and he possesses more power than both of them as well. Would he be able to do better than the AKA welterweights against GSP? There is only one way to find out.
Hendricks poses interesting problems for the champion.
If GSP turns down the superfight, Joe Silva and Dana White should have the contract for the Hendricks fight with them to immediately hand him.