It ain't easy being Johny Hendricks.
"Bigg Rigg" is in the midst of a six-fight Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) tear, taking out Top 10-ranked contenders Carlos Condit, Martin Kampmann, Josh Koscheck and Jon Fitch in his four most recent Octagon appearances to firmly cement his status as the next clear-cut 170-pound No. 1 title contender.
However, recent statements from UFC President Dana White during a UFC on Fox 7 pre-event media scrum (watch it here) would suggest that Hendricks' position is not a foregone conclusion despite his recent unanimous decision win over "The Natural Born Killer" at UFC 158 and inexplicably taking a back seat to Nick Diaz because reigning division champion Georges St. Pierre had a "score to settle."
"I am literally going to call Georges St. Pierre today and see what he wants to do [next]," said White. "I think if Jon Jones beats Chael Sonnen [at UFC 159] then we have to wait [for the outcome of] Anderson Silva and his fight against Chris Weidman. Maybe [Georges] wants to fight Anderson if he wins [at UFC 162]."
For mixed martial arts (MMA) fans who somehow might be unaware, White and Silva did anything and everything in their power to coerce St. Pierre into a "super fight" even before he returned from a year-long layoff (knee surgery) to best Condit at UFC 154 in Nov. 2012, including an unprecedented pre-fight press conference with "The Spider" hours before showtime (listen to it here).
Even a rumored $50 million payday couldn't convince the French-Canadian to accept a blockbuster bout with his esteemed 185-pound counterpart at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, Texas, because he wanted it to happen on "his terms."
So, St. Pierre beat up Diaz, Hendricks bested Condit and Silva, reluctantly, agreed to a bout with "All American," which is scheduled to take place at UFC 162 from MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, on July 6, 2013. And, at least according to White -- despite the fact the St. Pierre congratulated Hendricks after his win over Condit, assuring him that he earned the next 170-pound title shot -- "Rush" could have bigger plans in store for his next Octagon appearance.
"If Georges says to me, 'I want to fight Anderson,' do you think I'm going to go, 'No you're not, you're fight Johny Hendricks!'" White said.
All things considered, White, as well as St. Pierre, 31, who has certainly driven up his asking price for resisting all the "super fight pressure" to date, would both earn a mint for turning the MMA fantasy into a reality ... even if some think it's a mismatch.
Meanwhile, after all he has done to prove himself as the next best Welterweight in the world not named St. Pierre, Hendricks revealed after his emotional win over Condit that all he was concerned about was the 170-pound title and he wasn't about to get spun up in chasing St. Pierre to the Middleweight division to make it happen (read more here).
In other words, St. Pierre can chase the "super fight," but Hendricks' next appearance would be for a world championship with or without "Rush." And that seemed like a logical strategy until White revealed that a St. Pierre "super fight" would, for all intents and purposes, freeze the division.
"It would not vacate the 170-pound title if he lost that fight [to Anderson]," White said. "He could still go down [after a loss to Silva] and fight Hendricks for the [Welterweight] title."
Therefore, Hendricks will most likely have to wait until July 7, at a minimum, to get a true feel for his contender status. That is, of course, if St. Pierre opts to take the same "wait and see" approach as White after their conversation.
And if he does, and Silva wins, the "super fight" talk will once again reach a fevered pitch, meaning Hendricks will have to endure another few weeks, or even months, before he can honestly say that his next fight will be for a UFC Welterweight title.
It ain't easy being Johny Hendricks.