There’s very little question that Johny Hendricks should be the next man to challenge champion Georges St-Pierre. “Bigg Rigg” has rattled off five consecutive victories, and in that stretch he’s beaten three top-10 ranked opponents (Jon Fitch, Josh Koscheck and Martin Kampmann), knocking two (Fitch and Kampmann) of those men out in brutal fashion. He also toppled the durable, 10-15 ranked Mike Pierce in that same five-fight span.
Few challengers blitz the best of the division and find themselves overlooked when it comes time to talk title shots. But Johny’s found himself in that boat. He’s been bypassed in favor of a match pitting Georges St-Pierre and Nick Diaz.
Is it the logical maneuver to make when aiming to establish a young sport as…well, a legitimate sport? No, it’s not. Johny is the rightful No. 2 ranked welterweight, and he should be getting his shot at the welterweight kingpin. However, at the end of the day, the UFC must make money, and it must deposit asses in seats.
Is the UFC lobbying for recognition as a legitimate sport or is the organization content to travel the sports entertainment route, akin to the WWE? That’s the question on everyone’s mind.
Dana White and company certainly hope to see their promotion continue to expand, and while this specific case of fighter-pick-ems (St-Pierre requested the fight with Diaz) feels like a minor setback, Zuffa brass know what they’re doing. Johny Hendricks will get his shot, but for the time being, he’s going to have to take the backseat to one of the sports’ most polarizing figures.