New UFC Champion – New UFC Challenges
By Christopher Jester
It has been a long time since the UFC welterweight division has been as open as it is now. After winning a stirring victory over Robbie Lawler, Johny Hendricks now takes the mantle at 170lbs as the new champion. Will he muster the dominance that Matt Hughes and Georges St-Pierre had over the division? Time will tell, but Hendricks has a number of challengers that are salivating at the opportunity to face him.
Johny Hendricks has a lot to burden now that he is champion. His style alone is the anti-thesis to his predecessor. The title fight against Robbie Lawler proved that as the two traded powerful shots throughout the five-round affair, leaving each man bruised and busted up. Hendricks ability to knock you out while standing up is just one trick in his resource bag. He also has the tool set to take the fight down when he wants to, making him a complete threat wherever he decides to take the fight. Every challenger now has to worry about a champion who is just as dominant in one aspect of the fight game as the next. This puts Hendricks in an interesting stance as the new champion.
Will people line up to challenge him? Of course. He does not appear as the unstoppable as Georges St-Pierre yet (although you could argue he defeated the former champ). GSP had years to showcase just how stifling his style was. Hendricks still appears ripe to the ravenous challengers looking to capitalize on GSP’s absence. This in turn will make the contenders thirstier for the challenge, therefore leaving the fear at the door and throwing caution to the wind when they finally face Hendricks. Fear killed the challengers to GSP’s reign. At least until Hendricks showed up.
So who are the contenders at the top of the 170lb division? Tyron Woodley, Hector Lombard, Rory MacDonald, Dong-Hyun Kim, Matt Brown, and Tarec Saffiedine. Those are just a few with winning streaks. There are still the obvious Robbie Lawler, who put on a good title fight against Hendricks and the always elusive and enigmatic Nick Diaz. Yet there is still no clear top contender out of all of these names.
The UFC could implement a UFC 148 type event, where the whole card was highlighted by heavyweights in a gauntlet type fashion. Let the winner with the best performance of the night win the next title shot. It truly is up in the air at who gets the next shot at Hendricks. With Dana White vague on the issue, some time may pass without knowing who is next in line. Needless to say there are an abundance of fighters looking to get their hands on Hendricks. And now the newly minted champion has to get used to that bullseye on his back as he has become the next target for many up-and-coming welterweights.
Follow Christopher “sLapDatSuCKa” Jester on Twitter @sLapDatSuCka
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