UFC 154 went down last night in Montreal, Canada and the co-main events of the evening where in the welterweight division. In a battle of top contenders, Danish fighter Martin Kampmann looked to continue his rise to the top against hard slugging Johny Hendricks. The books had the fight at near pick ‘em, with Hendrix the slight favorite when the betting closed. Hendricks would make sure that the fans that took him would get their money very quickly, as he took out Kampmann in less than a minute with a massive right that was followed by a left that left Kampmann comatose. So what is next for Hendricks?
Hendricks has won 5 in a row now in the UFC against top guys (Koscheck, Fitch, Kampmann) and he has clearly established himself as the top contender for Georges St Pierre. The trouble is like Jon Fitch, or like Michael Bisping in the middleweight class, Hendricks may find himself at a bad time to be labelled the number one contender, as St Pierre is likely to be in a May superfight with Anderson Silva.
The interesting thing is that Hendricks, who is a stocky, solid wrestler with power in both hands is very similar in those respects to the last guy who beat George St Pierre, Matt Serra (Serra is more grappler than wrestler but they are both stocky and will take you out with a punch). He has advantages over Serra in that he retains his power inot the later rounds, and his wrestling background could help him make St Pierre work in the course of a long fight.
But Hendricks versus St Pierre just doesn’t have the flash that St Pierre versus Silva has as a match and a draw, so we are unlikely to see it anytime soon.
So what does Hendricks get next? His lone loss, to Rick Story in 2010, is not an interesting rematch since Story has lost 3 fights since then and owns a faded star. A match with Carlos Condit, or a match with Nick Diaz could have potential interim title implications, as it will likely be at least a year before we see St Pierre back defending the welterweight championship.
The bottom line is that the UFC’s moving St Pierre into a superfight leaves behind a logjam of contenders and near contenders in the welterweight division. Here is one suggestion, that the UFC won’t do, but it would make for terrific fights. St Pierre should leave the title behind, and an 8 man tournament should be held to crown a new champion. Here is the opening round -
Nick Diaz versus Johnny Hendrix
Jon Fitch versus Damian Maia
Martin Kampmann versus Carlos Condit
Jake Ellenberger versus Rory MacDonald
You gotta admit, that would be a tournament worth betting on, and worth watching.