Johny Hendricks challenged former long-time welterweight kingpin and all-time great Georges St. Pierre back at UFC 167 in November 2013 for the welterweight title. In what has now been the last fight of GSP’s career, Hendricks battled “Rush” hard to the finish, and many had thought “Big Rigg” had done enough to win, but he ultimately ended up losing a controversial split-decision.
When GSP decided to vacate his title soon thereafter for personal reasons, Hendricks was throw right back into a title fight as he met now champion “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler for the vacant belt at UFC 171 in March 2015. In a five-round instant classic, the two men fought back-and-forth to the finish, with Hendricks coming up big in the end to earn a decision win and become the new champion.
Due to the closeness and excitement of the first fight, the UFC booked an immediate rematch and the two met yet again at UFC 181 in December 2014, with the result being very different. “Big Rigg” seemed to tire towards the end of the bout, losing the title to Lawler in a disappointing split-decision.
Hendricks recently bounced back with a dominant decision win over the vicious Matt Brown at March’s UFC 185, and is currently ranked No. 1 in the 170-pound rankings. With the belt to be defended at July 11’s UFC 189 as Lawler meets No. 2-ranked Rory MacDonald, “Big Rigg” knows what he wants next.
Ariel Helwani appeared on tonight’s edition (June 10, 2015)of UFC Tonight, saying that he talked with Hendricks’ manager, and that Hendricks will indeed be in attendance at UFC 189. Helwani also stated that “Big Rigg’s” camp is expecting the next title shot, and has even been told that Hendricks is next in line by the UFC:
Johny Hendricks will attend UFC 189 and his manager says they’re expecting the next title shot and don’t want anything else.
— UFC Tonight (@UFCTonight) June 11, 2015
This news may make Hendricks happy, but one man who is definitely not fond of the news is No. 3-ranked Tyron “The Chosen One” Woodley. A winner of four of his last five, and coming off of two impressive victories, Woodley, knowing he may not be able to score a title shot right now, has been campaigning extremely hard for a bout with Hendricks.
A bout between Woodley and Hendricks definitely makes sense as it could be deemed a title eliminator. “The Chosen One” even said that he would fight “Big Rigg” at UFC 189 when the belt is defended, but Hendricks has remained quiet, not entertaining the idea at all. Having three title fights in the last few years, and only scoring one win since his latest title loss, does Hendricks really deserve the next title shot?
Whether he deserves it or not, I’m sure many fans won’t mind seeing Hendricks and Lawler go at it again. Should “Big Rigg” indeed fight for the title, or should he meet Woodley?