Last night at UFC 171, Robbie Lawler and Johny Hendricks battled it out for five rounds to determine who would capture the vacant UFC Welterweight title. After splitting the first 4 rounds 2-2, both men came out for an intense fifth round that saw Hendricks land some punches that rocked Lawler and put him against the cage where he got the take down for control and the win. Now Hendricks sits atop a division that is wide open, and has firmly moved on from the GSP era with a top notch title fight crowning the new champion.
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So what is next for the new champion? We will probably not see Hendricks fight again until late this year. Is that enough time off for GSP to have time away and for him to return? If he returns he should be first up, since the older he gets the less appealing his return is from a competition standpoint.
there really is no true #1 contender in the division, and after a good showing a Robbie Lawler rematch is not out of the question. Tyron Woodley took out Carlos Condit on the same show, leaving Woodley on the doorstep as well. Should Jake Ellenberger win over Tarec Saffiedine in April, either he or Woodley could fight Lawler next with the winner getting a shot. A rematch down the line with Lawler has itss appeal.
Two others who will make the case will be Hector Lombard and Rory MacDonald. Lombard is coming off a second straight win at 170 lbs. He fought a long, three round fight against a top guy in Jake Shields and he was dominant in all aspects. Lombard versus Hendricks is an intriguing fight on paper.
MacDonald has always been in the championship talk, but the chat was about how he wouldn’t fight his training partner GSP. Once he got into the upper echelon of talent for opposition he has failed to impress, and he is still young and can wait. But he will lobby for the fight.