Saturday night, for the first time in six years, a fighter not named Georges St-Pierre donned the UFC welterweight title belt.
For the UFC and its fighters and fans, the vacuum that opened when St-Pierre abruptly and indefinitely left MMA in December carried a double-sided implication. On one hand, the sport lost the best welterweight it's ever had, and maybe the second-best competitor in its entire history. On the other hand, when St-Pierre relinquished his stranglehold on the welterweight division, it released a wave of talent and interest (not to mention the title) at 170 pounds.
UFC 171 was tailor-made to capitalize on the latter, while doing its level best to help fans shake off the ghost of the former, which will linger precisely as long as the fighters in its shadow allow.
At the vanguard of this land rush are Johny Hendricks, a college wrestling champion who has coveted a UFC belt ever since discovering he had C-4 in his left hand, and Robbie Lawler, a veteran who turned pro at 18 and used his own tremendous punching power to pave an unlikely (if not unconvincing) path to the title shot.
One of those men walked out of Dallas with the strap around his waist. But the main event was merely the end of the beginning. The UFC 171 co-main event pitted the precision and dynamism of perennial welterweight contender Carlos Condit against the power grinding of Tyron Woodley. Just a bit farther down the card was an intriguing 170-pound striker/grappler matchup between Hector Lombard and Jake Shields.
All four of those welterweights were jockeying for a seat at the newly open welterweight table.
So the welterweights were the main course, but UFC 171 was loaded from Fight Pass to finale. As always, the stat lines only reveal so much. Here are the real winners and losers from a new day in Dallas.