In the co-main event of UFC 171 from the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas, it was Tyron Woodley who beat former welterweight champion Carlos Condit via second-round TKO to earn the No. 1 contendership in the division.
Despite earning the victory, most will remember how he won more than the actual win. ESPN's Brett Okamoto explains:
An outside leg kick to the calf injures Carlos Condit. He's done. Second-round TKO by Woodley. He rolled.— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) March 16, 2014
That's not to say Woodley didn't hold his own in this fight, though. He came out active from the opening bell, peppering Condit with several stiff punches. Condit was able to take the punishment and eventually rally a bit at the end of the first round, but nothing would help him when his knee gave way early in the second round.
After the fight, Woodley paid respect to Condit (via UFC on FOX):
Woodley: "Carlos Condit is my favorite fighter to watch fight ... I knew if I could get through him, I could be a world champion." #UFC171— UFCONFOX (@UFCONFOX) March 16, 2014
Nonetheless, Woodley's victory is huge for one of the brightest stars in the division. With the retirement of Georges St-Pierre, the welterweight class is now wide open, and there are several top contenders looking to get their hands on the belt.
Instead of MMA fans understanding that a title eliminator was nothing more than a coin flip to decide who would lose via decision to GSP, there is no clear-cut top fighter in the division anymore.
While Johny Hendricks vs. Robbie Lawler in the main event will decide who the new king of the welterweights is, Woodley now has a one-way ticket to a main event where he will challenge for one of the company's top prizes.
The hope now for Woodley is that Hendricks is able to pull out the victory and will be the man he faces in his title shot. With the chance to fight in the most high-profile fight possible, Woodley will have the unique opportunity to make a name for himself and cement his status as one of the best fighters in the sport, regardless of weight class.
As for what's next for Condit, the most likely next fight would be a challenge against the loser of the main event matchup. If Lawler goes on to take the loss as many experts expect, the timing for a fight would be perfect.
Condit vs. Lawler would be a very intriguing undercard matchup.
From a strictly in-ring point of view, this was an ideal matchup of two contrasting styles.
While Condit has been known as an explosive striker who will make his challengers pay for being too aggressive, Woodley also showed that he can hang by throwing some powerful punches of his own.
Which fighter has the brighter future?
This fight showed a ton of promise after the first round, but Condit's injury brought things to an abrupt close. Not only is that disappointing for UFC fans, but this injury should also linger in Condit's mind as Woodley moves on to presumably fight the winner of UFC 171's main event.
This fight wasn't a total failure from a fighting standpoint, but the injury definitely knocks it down the grading scale.