UFC welterweight champion Johny Hendricks put on one of the most exciting title fights in the division’s history against Robbie Lawler at UFC 171. ‘Bigg Rigg’ emerged victorious after the five round war, but now faces a lengthy lay-off after surgery for a torn bicep.

The division is looking pretty clogged up right now and a clear contender is yet to be determined. Hendricks stopped by to talk with MMAJunkie about the situation at the top of the 170-pound class:

“How many people are claiming they deserve a shot at me? I’ll be out for a little bit longer, so I would like to have them all fight one more time, how many people in the last year were the No. 1 contender? Just one: It was me,” Hendricks said. “That’s what you work for.”

“You don’t work to be one of the four, one of the five or one of the six guys who think they deserve it and hopefully get picked. They should fight. Then instead of picking from four, you can pick from one or two. That’s what I’m looking at.”

There are plenty of exciting fights to make at welterweight, and they all have heavy title implications. Rory MacDonald, Hector Lombard, Tyron Woodley, Robbie Lawler and Jake Ellenberger-now that’s a solid top five to have in your division. Hendricks is relatively unfazed though:

“Realistically, it doesn’t matter to me,” Hendricks said. “I don’t care who I fight. Now that I’m at the top, I know I’m going to have to run through everybody, and that’s what I plan on doing. Whoever the UFC thinks is the No. 1 contender, let’s fight them, get through them, and then move on to the next one.”

Hendricks will not be short of potential return fights to muse, unless the dreaded injury curse moves on to the rest of the division. Providing all is well by September-November, ‘Bigg Rigg’ says he will be back in the cage:

“The only thing that’s bothering me right now is I’m on the DL list,” Hendricks said. “I’ve got to sit and let my body heal and that’s probably the hardest thing for me to do. I want to get back in the octagon. That’s all I really know is to fight. I’m hoping I can get back there as soon as possible. I’m saying I’ll return anywhere from September to November”

Who knows, Hendricks might even return to a rematch with Robbie Lawler. Currently slated to fight Jake Ellenberger at UFC 173, ‘Ruthless’ remains a serious threat in the division. Any thoughts?

Photo Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie for USA TODAY Sports