When Georges St-Pierre vacated his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight title to take a break from mixed martial arts (MMA) to focus on his personal issues, fight fans were eager to find out which two men would compete for the vacant strap.
UFC President Dana White didn't keep them waiting too long, quickly announcing that Johny Hendricks -- the last man to
beat lose to "Rush" -- would get another opportunity to vie for the gold when he takes on Robbie Lawler in the main event of UFC 171 in Dallas, Texas, on March 15. 2014.
Getting the call while spending some quality time with his family at Disney World, Hendricks says he was "super excited" to hear that he had received the nod to face "Ruthless."
And in his own backyard no less.
"Bigg Rigg" explained his elation during a recent appearance on "The MMA Hour:"
"Super-excited. Who wouldn't be? You're sitting there and doing stuff and you find out that you're going to fighting Dallas, your own backyard ... you find out you'll be fighting a very tough opponent, Robbie Lawler -- who wouldn't be excited for that? I know the fans are. I've seen some posts that the fans are very excited for this fight, and I am too. This is going to be a great fight. This is going to be a fight for the fans and I can't wait."
While others fighters might be disappointed to learn they wouldn't fight the incumbent champion -- in this case getting a rematch against a man who many fans felt he defeated the first time around -- Hendricks, for one, says fighting St-Pierre isn't his top priority.
And it never was. Indeed, the only thing he ever cared about was fighting for the gold.
"I don't care about that. Here's the thing, if I fight GSP again I fight him again. If I don't, I don't. My world doesn't revolve around him. It revolves around that belt. And that's what I've been saying this whole time. I'm not fighting GSP, I want what he carried around to all those press conferences, that's what I was fighting for, and that's still what I'm fighting for."
Hendricks came up short on the judges' scorecards when he went toe-to-toe against St. Pierre at UFC 167 last month, losing via split decision, one that caused major outcry across the mixed martial arts (MMA) community with the consensus being that "Bigg Rigg" was robbed of the title that night.
But, that was then and this is now.
And Hendricks, for one, has moved on from that dreadful night in Las Vegas, Nevada, and will now focus all of his attention on a man, Lawler, who has had a career resurrection of sorts, winning three straight since returning to UFC's Octagon, including impressive wins over Josh Koscheck and more recently, Rory MacDonald, at UFC 167.
Two southpaws with heavy hands who prefer to stand-and bang? Hard not to like ... a lot.