When UFC mainstay and pound-for-pound great Georges St-Pierre steps inside the Octagon later tonight, one of two things is going to happen: Either he defends his title for a ninth-straight time, or Johny Hendricks punches his way to the biggest victory of his life.
Now, while a win for GSP would dispel any rumors of retiring, a win for Hendricks ultimately means a new king reigns supreme. Whichever momentous outcome rings true, the UFC welterweight title scene will be reshaped for 2014.
That's where Rory MacDonald and Robbie Lawler come in.
As two of the more game fighters in the promotion, both welterweights possesses the overall Octagon presence to one day contend for a championship.
Fighting for that title as soon as 2014 is going to come down to Saturday night's performance. Either fighter needs to win in fashion and separate themselves from the rest of the pack.
With Carlos Condit and Matt Brown set to lock horns at UFC on FOX 9 in December, as well as Jake Ellenberger needing to get back into the win column, the division is in search of the next top contender.
Since making his UFC return back in February, Lawler has looked the part, smashing both Josh Koscheck and Bobby Voelker early and efficiently. But in today's MMA, when win streaks and flash finishes rule all, "Ruthless" needs one more notch on his belt to make a push for tonight's main event victor.
As for MacDonald, who many consider the very best prospect in the sport, and one who resembles a young GSP, he needs to redeem himself after a rather lackluster performance opposite Ellenberger back in July.
The 24-year-old is obviously an unbelievable talent who possesses the athleticism and sheer skill to one day conquer an aging division, but he needs to put an exclamation mark on an already impressive UFC career.
Now, while MacDonald and fellow Canadian St-Pierre train together in Montreal, Quebec, under the Tristar banner, that shouldn't stop either guy from signing the dotted line.
It would be much easier if Hendricks defeated MacDonald's predecessor, but it shouldn't matter. Training partners have fought before, and they'll fight again and do what professionals in their business need to do. It's that simple, especially when Dana White is running the show.
So before the title is put up for grabs and Hendricks tries to knock out a seemingly untouchable figure, MacDonald and Lawler will duke it off for what seems to be No. 1 contender rights.
A dynamic finish for either guy could launch him into a title shot in 2014. But a back-and-forth stalemate could mean the winner of Condit vs. Brown gets the nod.
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