Winner's Circle: What victory means for UFC 171's featured fighters

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sp

What does victory mean for Johny Hendricks, Robbie Lawler, Carlos Condit and Tyron Woodley this Saturday night (March 15, 2014) at UFC 171 in Dallas, Texas? We explore the consequences below.

If everything is bigger in Texas, then consider the five-round welterweight championship main event as gigantic as they come.

UFC 171: "Hendricks vs. Lawler" takes place this Saturday night (March 15, 2014) at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas, and for the first time in six years, the gold will be placed around the waist of a man not named Georges St. Pierre.

After "Rush" vacated the gold back in December to focus on life outside the sport, it was announced his most recent foe, Johny Hendricks, would battle it out against Robbie Lawler to determine the new 170-pound champion.

The co-main event also features two welterweights gunning for the same strap, as Carlos Condit faces off against Tyron Woodley in another epic bout.

With the majority of this card's excitement focused on these two contests, let us look into our crystal ball and map out what a victory on Saturday night might mean for these four featured fighters.

Here we go:

Johny Hendricks

I think what's important for Hendricks here is the psychological effect of a win. If he ousts Lawler in the main event, the win would erase the horrific ending to the relatively-decent evening he had at UFC 167.

Nobody would ask Hendricks about that fight. It would be swept under the rug faster than a dime bag you're trying to hide from your parents.

This is why Hendricks should feel more pressured to win. In his mind, he's already the champion. This could be seen as his first true title defense, in his home away from home.

As a matter of fact, it's not about Georges St. Pierre or Robbie Lawler. It's about Hendricks proving he is the best 170-pound fighter on the planet, and he needs the strap around his waist for the masses to believe him. He's always said it's about the belt, not a personal vendetta.

If "Bigg Rigg" leaves the Octagon as champion, there's no controversy or question about him being the new king.

Losing two title fights in a row would be a massive blow -- so big it may take a while for the damage to sink in.

Robbie Lawler

I'll put this in the simplest of forms possible: "Ruthless" needs a UFC belt to go down as one of the greatest fighters ever.

We can't say he would be the best welterweight or middleweight, but Lawler was dropping foes in the sport when the majority of fans were still playing StarCraft on a daily basis.

If you would have predicted "Ruthless" would be in this spot years after competing in Strikeforce, Elite XC and even Japan, some would have thought a mental institution would have been a good fit for you.

It wasn't something believable. That being said, Lawler finds himself in the biggest fight of his life, and if he could capture the vacant gold, Lawler could go down as a legend, being reborn in an era much different than his Miletich Fighting System days.

Losing the fight on Saturday doesn't make Lawler any less accomplished than he already is. It would just be unfortunate (in the long run) that after 13 years in the sport, the only prize he would be missing on his shelf is the biggest one of them all (minus a Strikeforce title too, but really, who cares?)

Carlos Condit

"The Natural Born Killer" isn't far off from being a household name, and if you follow the sport closely, you're ignorant if you don't know what this guy is capable of.

He's got all the tools to be a great champion, and if you think about it, Condit couldn't get past the former champion (Georges St. Pierre) and the fighter who is favored to win the main event at UFC 171 (Hendricks).

He'd be favored against anyone else.

Apart from those two individuals, Condit is the best fighter at welterweight (unless Lawler wins, which pegs him back a notch). If the Albuquerque, New Mexico, resident defeats Tyron Woodley this weekend, he's probably next in line for a title shot.

If he finishes "The Chosen One," it's almost a guarantee.

On top of everything just mentioned, let's say Hendricks is victorious in the main event -- a Condit win could set up a rematch between the two, since their UFC 158 co-main event bout stimulates the conspiracy theorists that think the fight could have gone differently had it been five rounds.

Tyron Woodley

Out of all four welterweight competitors, Woodley has nothing to lose.

He's in the biggest fight of his career, against the toughest opponent he's ever faced. If he loses, there are a bunch of other welterweights in his position, and he's young enough to overcome them eventually, with hopes of getting back into the spotlight.

If he wins, he not only derails Condit's championship plans he also creates the potential to be considered a legitimate threat to the new champion.

Granting "The Chosen One" a title shot with a win over Condit could be premature, but you couldn't deny he just beat a former champion (well, interim champion), and quite possibly the most well-rounded combatant in the division.

If Condit gets a shot with a win, why not Woodley, you ask?

There are an abundance of welterweights trying to climb the mountaintop since St. Pierre's departure, with Woodley being one of them. He may not receive an immediate shot, because his 2-2 record in his last four bouts may not be convincing enough. After all, Condit has been in the championship picture for two years now.

Though if he wins his next bout after this one, you're in a position where you'd be cruel to say he shouldn't get a crack at the champion.

That's a wrap, Maniacs. Now, let's hear your take in the comments section below.

To check out the finalized fight card and line up for UFC 171: "Hendricks vs. Lawler" click here.

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