Doesn't this picture say it all?
In a welterweight showdown for the ages—one that commanded the majority of this year's UFC spotlight—Johny Hendricks seemingly got robbed of his chance to wear the welterweight crown.
For five rounds, the Texan demoralized the champion with strong wrestling, brash power, exceptional conditioning and a will to win that's rarely mirrored in today's sport.
But after bashing Georges St-Pierre's face for what seemed to be an eternity, it was Hendricks who dropped to his knees in disbelief when two of the three judges left their common sense backstage.
It was an outcome that caught Hendricks, Dana White, fans around the world and even St-Pierre off guard. It also once again proves that a challenger needs to definitively beat a champion to acquire the belt.
Winning three out of five rounds convincingly is not enough.
So in the aftermath of one of the most controversial calls in UFC history, as well as GSP's post-fight layoff speech, Hendricks is left in limbo.
Here are three fights for "Bigg Rigg"—who some may now call "The True Champ"—to take next. Of course, these all hinge on St-Pierre's future plans.
Hendricks has reiterated time and time again that he doesn't care who has the belt, as long as he gets the chance to take it.
As one of the most athletically gifted and technical fighters in the UFC, MacDonald wouldn't be a stepping stone by any means, but Hendricks' power would get him back in the win column.
It would also give the UFC another opportunity to see if MacDonald can finally come through when the spotlight is biggest and see how he does against a guy who stifled his mentor for five straight rounds.
Winner of Carlos Condit vs. Matt Brown
Either one of these guys makes complete sense for the UFC and Hendricks moving forward.
As far as Condit is concerned, who wouldn't want to see that rematch? His first fight opposite Hendricks earlier this year was one of the best bouts of 2013. They're two elite welterweights with phenomenal chins, dynamic striking and overwhelming moxie.
So whether the UFC decides to promote Brown as the next big thing if he wins or set up a Condit rematch, Hendricks has key draws he can fall back on if GSP doesn't man up.
For all intents and purposes, a championship rematch with St-Pierre should already be on Hendricks' schedule for 2014.
Instead, after his worst performance since Matt Serra upset him at UFC 69, the champion has decided to "take some personal time."
Who will Hendricks fight next?
A rematch with Hendricks would produce exponential exposure and an overall draw similar to that of Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen II.
Now it's possible that St-Pierre's emotions got the best of him and a future talk with Dana White will square things away, but you never know. Fighters often want to retire at the top, and if the champ believes Hendricks will beat him when they meet again, do you think he'll risk his legacy for money he doesn't need?
In any case, if GSP is around and willing to fight, Hendricks will get his second shot at the belt. However, don't count on the Nevada State Athletic Commission being part of the action.
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