After getting passed over in favor of Nick Diaz in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweight title fight chase against Georges St. Pierre, Johny Hendricks wanted the next best thing -- a fight against the last man to face "Rush" and the promotion's former interim 170-pound champ, Carlos Condit.
As (un) luck would have it, Rory MacDonald, the man who was supposed to fight Condit in the co-main event of UFC 158 on March 16, 2013, suffered an injury in training which forced him off the much-anticipated rematch against the first and only man to ever beat him.
Hendricks took this opportunity to call up company president Dana White and ask to be the one to replace ‘Ares' against Carlos, a request that was granted immediately.
For ‘Bigg Rigg,' it's all about taking a more direct and secure path to his title shot, and though a win over his original opponent, Jake Ellenberger, would have likely given him next dibs, Hendricks feels a good performance against Condit would justify he is indeed ready for a championship fight.
Hendricks spoke to Bleacher Report to break it all down:
"Nothing against Jake Ellenberger, but Carlos Condit just came off a title fight. This is his first fight back after holding the title for nine months. He was the interim champion and is coming off a fight with Georges St. Pierre. That fight is still fresh in people's minds and if I can put on a good performance against Condit, that should show everybody I'm ready for that title shot. That's what I'm looking at. If I can go out there and put on a performance where people say, 'Wait a minute...that's not how GSP did it,' then I know the next step can't be taken from me."
According to the former NCAA Division-1 wrestling champion, a fight against Ellenberger was simply a fight to keep busy while the title fight between St. Pierre and Diaz played itself out in the main event of UFC 158.
Furthermore, an impressive performance against "The Natural Born Killer," who went the distance with St. Pierre at UFC 154, will give people a chance to see his all-around mixed martial arts (MMA) fight game:
"Both Ellenberger and Condit present their problems, but what this fight boils down to is that Condit had the interim belt. Jake Ellenberger was going to be just another fight for me to hold my position. But this fight is different. If I go out there and I win against Carlos, then that is just going to skyrocket me because what he did last year was pretty big. He went out there and fought GSP closer than GSP wanted it to happen. If I can go out there and do the same thing, fight to that caliber, then I prove a lot. I think that is what people are trying to use to justify why they think I don't deserve a title shot. Just because I've been going out there and knocking guys out in 12 or 40 seconds, whatever it is, people don't think that I have an all-around game."
With "Juggernaught" off his radar for now, Hendricks has a co-main event fight in one of the biggest cards of the year against a former champion in a bout that can, without a doubt, get him the next crack at the welterweight title, should he prove victorious.
Plus, he can also back up all the talk, in the process.
Can he get it done?