UFC 154, which took place last November, marked a very busy night for the welterweight division. Long-time champion Georges St-Pierre returned to action, defending his title for the first time in over a year-and-a-half, and top contenders Johny Hendricks and Martin Kampmann battled it out for the right to next contest for GSP's crown.
In the event's No. 1 contender bout, Hendricks scored a crushing knockout in the very first minute, effectively separating himself from the pack as the leading challenger to the champion.
Only, he never got the opportunity. It instead fell to Nick Diaz, who had previously announced his retirement after losing to Carlos Condit, the opponent St-Pierre defeated at UFC 154.
The pairing seems to fly in the face of reason, yet it's one that makes sense from a business standpoint. Though Diaz is coming off a loss and Hendricks has won five straight, Diaz's polarizing personality and ongoing feud with St-Pierre means he's the opponent that sells, not Hendricks.
Hendricks, however, doesn't really see the logic behind GSP's wishes, nor the UFC's willingness to fulfill them. During a recent appearance on MMAmania's Verbal Submission podcast, "Bigg Rigg" related his reaction to hearing the news.
My reaction was like, 'Really?! You're [St-Pierre] an idiot.' He said that Condit really did beat Nick Diaz, know what I'm saying? He said, 'I'm fighting the true number one contender Carlos Condit,' and now, he's going backtracking and saying, 'Well, I think [Hendricks] lost.' Who cares? You don't get to decide. He's not a judge. He's not a judge. He's a fighter. He's paid to fight and he's paid to fight me.
Hendricks will indeed fight the night that St-Pierre next defends his title (UFC 158), but it will be against fellow welterweight contender Jake Ellenberger, not the champion. A win then would all but guarantee that he's next to challenge for the title.
Also fighting that same night are top welterweights Rory MacDonald and Carlos Condit. Should Hendricks fall to Ellenberger, the victor of that bout may be shuffled to the front of the line, although Condit just fought for the title and MacDonald is St-Pierre's buddy and won't fight him even if the opportunity is given.
For Hendricks, though, it's simple. Just win. If he does there is really no case—logical or illogical—for any other fighter to next contest for the welterweight strap.