This Saturday will mark the first time in nearly six years a new welterweight dynamo will be crowned UFC champion.
Now while that initial perspective might frighten many fans still clinging on to the Georges St-Pierre era, it's good news for a division in need of fresh fights and even more diverse opportunities.
Fortunately for fight fans around the world, two of the hardest hitting 170-pounders on this vast planet will be the ones fulfilling that inevitable divisional shift.
What Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler have at their disposal is the overwhelming chance to capture UFC gold, leave their mark in the history books and embark on a journey only GSP himself has traversed since early 2008.
But through all of the expectations and possibilities upon victory, who actually poses the biggest threat to squander the other and hoist the belt this weekend at UFC 171?
According to St-Pierre, who discussed the upcoming matchup in a recent interview with The Canadian Press (h/t Sportsnet.ca), "Bigg Rigg" has what it takes to edge out Lawler:
It’s a fight where anything can happen. Both guys can put each other to sleep. They have a lot of power in striking, but I believe Hendricks has the edge in this fight because I believe he will come more well-prepared with his team and he’s got an edge in the grappling department.
If you remember, it was Hendricks who took St-Pierre to the absolute edge of defeat back at UFC 167, but GSP ultimately eked out a spit-decision victory in what many still consider a bitter end to his illustrious career.
But despite his swift departure from the sport, as well as leaving the belt behind, the 32-year-old Canadian believes Saturday night will not feel strange when watching someone else wear the very welterweight title he built a legacy around:
No, because it was my choice to give away the title. It was my choice so I don’t regret anything. I feel very good and I’m happy that I did it. I feel better now.
In any case, assuming GSP doesn't decide to come back in the near future, the UFC welterweight division is completely up for grabs.
Whether Hendricks is able to fulfill St-Pierre's prediction and knock off "Ruthless," a familiar face in Carlos Condit could be waiting in the wings when Saturday's dust finally settles.
For more UFC news and coverage, Follow @DHiergesell.
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