Photo of Johny Hendricks via UFC.com.
Note to all UFC 170-pound title contenders: Stand down, "Bigg Rigg's" got this.
The Interim crown, to be exact.
That's because the 12-1 Okie is on the precipice of a division title shot, and he doesn't want it to fall by the wayside because he failed to keep himself relevant in the aftermath of what is easily the biggest win of his career.
"I've been telling everybody I really want the winner of [Diaz/Condit]. You don't get this opportunity too often. Now that I've done it in the ring, I've got to do it outside the ring. If I don't promote myself outside the ring -- I mean, there are great fights going on and now they're happening almost every week. You can be forgotten. So if I don't say in the news that I want that interim title shot -- there's a fight this weekend in the 170 class, and [if Koscheck or Pierce] does good, I might get bumped. So I always got to be out there making my case. I want my goal. My goal is to be UFC champ some day, and I know I'm right there. I just need that shot. Here's the thing. Unless the UFC says, ‘Johny, you have to fight -- we want you to get a shot at the title, but we have some questions, and you need another one first,' then of course I'm not going to bite the hand that feeds me. I'm going to do what they say. But if it's up to me, I'd much rather go for the UFC interim belt. I've seen so many people who are right there, right there to get that shot and something happens ... it never fails, something happens, and they don't win. And then it takes them three or four fights to get back, which is a year to a year-and-a-half back, and that's if everything lines up perfectly."
Hendricks has just one defeat in 13 professional fights, a close unanimous decision loss to fellow division up-and-comer Rick Story. He's 9-1 under the Zuffa banner and toppled such names as Charlie Brenneman, Amir Sadollah and Mike Pierce.
But has he done enough to warrant a title shot in his next appearance?
Aside from Nick Diaz and Carlos Condit, Josh Koscheck is fighting Pierce on Saturday night's main card. And let's not forget about the winner of Jake Ellenberger vs. Diego Sanchez at UFC on Fuel TV in mid-February.
Who do you, as a fan, think should get first dibs on the winner of UFC 143?