UFC 171: Hendricks vs. Lawler went down this past Saturday from the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. The drama surrounding the main event and the unfortunate circumstance that led to the ending of the co-main event, helped deliver one of the most memorable cards in recent memory. To make a long story short, this card is clearly an early candidate for event of the year. For the first time since UFC 83 (a span of nearly six years), there is a new UFC undisputed welterweight champion. While not the ideal route taken by the new champ Hendricks, “Big Rigg” was finally able to put his stamp on history, and in the process, was one half of arguably the greatest welterweight title fight in history.
The co-main event, which involved some serious title implications, left us with more questions than answers. Was Woodley’s win legit? Was it more fluky than Weidman’s leg kick check? How hurt is Condit? ACL tear? How long will he be out? But perhaps the biggest question is: who’s next for Hendricks?
The third featured bout saw Myles Jury, with the help of a beef tar tar and raw quail egg, pick apart Sanchez for three rounds, enroute to a clear decision win.
Hector Lombard announced his arrival into the upper-echelon of the welterweight division, and all it took was one round. Ok, so it took longer than that (15 minutes to be exact), but that first round was absolutely brutal.
In the first fight of the night, GSP OSP showed his superiority over Nikita Krylov, before finishing “Al Capone” with the mystical Von Flue choke. While six of the eight preliminary bouts went to a decision, there was plenty of excitement involved for us to notice. Now, as is usually the case after an event, it’s time to look into the future and figure out what’s next for those that won their fights at this historic event. Here we go.
Ovince St. Preux vs. Jimi Manuwa
OSP is really coming into his own as a mixed martial artist. Blessed with incredible athleticism, a long reach, and a solid wrestling base, St. Preux is on the cusp of a top 10 ranking. At 3-0 in his young UFC career, St. Preux has more than proven his worth to the UFC, and deserves a fight with a at least a fighter ranked in the top 15. In steps “Poster Boy.” While the general rule of matchmaking calls for to fighters coming off of wins to square up, an exception can be made for Manuwa. Anyone that is a fan of the sport knows two things about the Manuwa situation: (1) he should never have been matched up against Alexander Gustafsson and (2) his fights prior to the Gus loss prove that he well passed fighting guys of that caliber. Anyway, fans should be willing to let it slide this one time. Besides, who wouldn’t want to see a fight involving two of the most explosive fighters at 205?
Hector Lombard vs. Tyron Woodley
I know what you’re thinking: how can I eliminate at least one future title challenger. The answer is simple: both these guys weren’t as impressive on Saturday as they would have you believe, and my pick for Hendricks’ opponent will make sense to everyone. Although both of these fighters got here via different results, this fight makes too much sense not to happen. As a matter of fact, given that Carlos Condit is out for the foreseeable future, this fight could be billed as a number one contenders fight; something that I am sure will not be opposed by any fan. What catches my interest most is that both Lombard and Woodley are 5’9” and are the most muscular fighters at 170. Yes, I know exactly how that sounds. However, the point that I am trying to make is that when you put two physical specimens with strong grappling credentials against each other, that is usually the recipe for a stand-up war. Enjoy, fight fans!
Myles Jury vs. Bobby Green
Admitingly, I struggled to find an opponent for Myles Jury. Joe Silva, your job is safe. Jury has looked good during his stint with the UFC, but he still has room to improve. While his UFC ranking would warrant a fight with a top 10 opponent, I believe that a fight with Green could potentially be a prelude of what is to come for both fighters. Although Green could bulk at fighting a guy like Jury due to him being relatively young in the game, that 14-0 record owned by Jury could at the very least, raise the interest level of Green. If you don’t believe that these two should fight each other, look at their respective last opponents. Jury fought Sanchez and Green fought Pat Healy. Sanchez and Healy are two fighters that are barely over 30, and yet have been around for what seems like forever. Long story short, Jury and Green had similar performances against savvy veterans. Yeah, time for them to fight next.
Johny Hendricks vs. Georges St. Pierre.
I told you that it would all make sense. Too much sense, if you ask me. This reminds me of the time that pro wrestler, C.M. Punk, left WWE with the world championship. WWE would have a mini tournament to crown a new champ, which ended up being John Cena. After Cena’s match, C.M. Punk would make his entrance to show Cena who the real champion is. I mean sure it is pro wresting, which is scripted, but couldn’t a similar scenario play out here? Oh, did I mention that Cena was the man that Punk defeated to win that title? Are you onboard now? Look, I understand that GSP has only been out for only four months, but with Hendricks possibly facing a lay-off of at least four months, wouldn’t GSP at least entertain the idea of a fight? Besides, wouldn’t he want to leave the sport on better terms? I’m not trying to belittle the accomplishments of Hendricks, but with all due respect, he is merely a paper champion at this point. Until GSP retires, which he has not indicated that he has, Hendricks has to be considered the second best welterweight on the planet. I realize that Hendricks deserved to win the fight with GSP, but he didn’t, at least that’s what the records say. The UFC can’t possibly want to promote Hendricks vs. Lombard or Hendricks vs. Woodley; not after the way both Lombard’s and Woodley’s respective fights ended. Hendricks vs. St. Pierre II almost has to happen, and it will. You’re welcome, Joe Silva.
Other fights to make:
Kelvin Gastelum vs. Brandon Thatch
Jessica Andrade vs. Amanda Nunes
Dennis Bermudez vs. Dustin Poirier
Alex Garcia vs. Nicholas Musoke
Francisco Trevino vs. Ernest Chavez
Justin Scoggins vs. Louis Gaudinot
Sean Strickland vs. Trevor Smith
Rob Whiteford vs. Zubaira Tukhugov