Stephen Thompson took out Johny Hendricks in absolutely brilliant / beautiful fashion at UFC Fight Night 82, and now the promotion’s brass has some tough, tough decisions to make regarding the title picture.
If you saw last night’s headliner, then you know Hendricks had a ton of trouble tracking Thompson down and shutting down his arsenal of kicks. At one point the wrestler was able to clinch up and grab a leg, but Thompson defended the TD attempt. After that, Hendricks downhill descent only quickened, and Thompson finished him off with a spinning kick and punches.
So, one might say it was a ‘wonderous’ performance for “Wonderboy”, who has now won six in a row. After the bout, Thompson made it clear that he wants a crack at the 170 title (quote via MMA Junkie.com):
“Of course, defeating Hendricks, he’s a tough guy, the No. 2-ranked guy, former welterweight champion – I’m asking for the title,” Thompson said. “I know there’s a lot of guys in line, but I think after that performance, I deserved it.”
Yes, there are “guys in line”, and this is where things could get interesting. As you recall, Mr. Tyron Woodley was promised a title shot, after Hendricks was forced to withdraw from their scheduled bout last October. Woodley elected to wait on the sidelines for that shot, and won’t be too happy, if he gets passed over.
Then, of course, there’s also Carlos Condit. Who nearly defeated the reigning champ Robbie Lawler in January, and has talked about retirement. Condit has also said, however, that if a rematch with Lawler is tabled, he’s all in.
So what should the UFC do? From a business perspective it’s not looking to good for Woodley right now. He hasn’t fought since January, 2015, and that was a decision win over Kelvin Gastelum. The needle on the Lawler – Woodley bout isn’t exactly driving to the right…
As far as Lawler – Condit, it wasn’t long ago when there were a ton of fans calling / screaming for that bout to happen. So, if the UFC books it, one would think there will be considerable buzz.
But, with Thompson, who can say they don’t want to see him fight Lawler right now? How good would that scrap be? And really, while Lawler is super, super tough, Thompson clearly has the tools to beat him.
So, yes, Thompson wasn’t ranked in the top five prior to this card, and purists will argue that Condit deserves a rematch more. Are they right? Probably. But as is the case with Woodley, ‘deserve’ often doesn’t win out in MMA. So, don’t be surprised if the UFC waits to see what the fans are calling for, and goes with that match-up.