On November 16, 2013, at UFC 167, Johny Hendricks shocked the world of MMA with his performance against the reigning and six-year welterweight champion, Georges St-Pierre. “Bigg Rigg” took down, beat up and damaged the champion’s face beyond recognition. Yet, at the end of the two combatants’ epic matchup, to the disbelief of mostly every spectator who witnessed the bout, St-Pierre was granted the split-decision victory.
Almost immediately, the crowd at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nev., was in an uproar. However, no one appeared more disgruntled with the decision than UFC president Dana White. After the fight, he exclaimed (per Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports):
I'm blown away that Georges St-Pierre won that fight. Listen: I'm a promoter. He's the biggest pay-per-view star on the [expletive] planet tonight for me, and I still don't think he won that fight. I want what's fair and that wasn't fair.
However, despite the heart-wrenching loss, Hendricks’ future has never seemed so bright. In fact, according to White, 2014 will most likely bear witness to a St-Pierre/Hendricks rematch of even higher stakes. At the UFC 167 post-fight media scrum, the UFC president stated, according to "There needs to be a rematch. Johny deserves this rematch.”
All things being equal, Hendricks’ rematch against St-Pierre will most probably be immediate. St-Pierre/Hendricks II will occur, not only because the UFC president deems it so, but simply because it is logically sound. A No. 1 contender’s matchup between Hendricks and anyone else in the division is void of reason and lacks rationale.
And Then There Were None
The UFC’s No. 2 welterweight contender is Carlos Condit. “The Natural Born Killer” lost to Hendricks at UFC 158 and is currently scheduled to face Matt Brown (No. 8) at UFC on Fox 9, on December 14. Five of the next seven welterweight contenders—Rory MacDonald, Jake Ellenberger, Demian Maia, Martin Kampmann and Nick Diaz—have lost their most recent matchups.
Despite Jake Shields’ win at UFC Fight Night 29, many believe that the MMA veteran (No. 7) lost his matchup against Maia in yet another controversial, split-decision bout. Given Hendricks' controversial loss against the welterweight champion at UFC 167, granting any of the above fighters a shot at the No. 1 contender would represent a gift of grand proportions.
The Dark Horse: Robbie Lawler
Robbie Lawler jumped up to the No. 3-ranked position after his decision win over St-Pierre protégé Rory MacDonald at UFC 167. The Iowa native sports heavy hands, with 18 of his 22 wins coming by way of knockout. With the victory and subsequent ranking, Lawler is just one successful victory removed from challenging for the title. Therefore, a matchup between him and Hendricks would draw great interest, particularly if St-Pierre does not return from his self-inflicted hiatus within a reasonable amount of time—or at all.
All in all, no fight makes more sense than a 2014 St-Pierre/Hendricks rematch. A sentiment shared by the UFC president himself, the coming year will, undoubtedly, represent one in which Hendricks challenges for the UFC welterweight title one more time.
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