After watching UFC 171: "Hendricks vs. Lawler" last Sat. night (March 15, 2014) from American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas, there's good news and there's bad news (first off, check out the highlights here).
The good news is, the welterweight championship is vacant no more, as Johny Hendricks received the unanimous decision win over longtime veteran Robbie Lawler to earn the right to be called the best fighter in the world at 170 pounds.
The bad news is, after Carlos Condit's injury against Tyron Woodley in the co-main event, which forced the bout to be called off in the second round in Woodley's favor, there's no clear number one contender in a division which remains as wide open as ever with the champion's eyes glaring down from his throne.
What do we do now?
UFC 171 was supposed to be a showcase of welterweights. We expected at least one fighter emerging from the ashes with a weapon in his hand, ready to take on the main event winner in a Clint Eastwood-style western showdown we could have anticipated in the next few months.
There's history there already with Hendricks, and the fact of the matter is Condit was an interim champion who could have anticipated a title fight in his immediate future had he looked good against Woodley. The Albuquerque resident is as good as anyone at 170 pounds, deserving of a place against the champion when the time would be right.
With that being said, you can say he was "finished" by Woodley yesterday. Maybe the same way one finishes an essay two hours before its due in a collegiate setting, because it looked strange and sloppy. Woodley gave a kick to the opposite knee after Condit got up from the takedown, and Condit spun around like Ryu from Street Fighter, but the difference is, he came crashing down in severe pain.
Nevertheless, it's a finish for Woodley.
It's not pretty, yet neither was Chris Weidman's finish over Anderson Silva at UFC 168 when they fought for a second time. Is this not the same situation, or are these two occurrences vastly different?
You be the judge, although it's teetering more in the direction of familiar territory.
Woodley may not get the respect for his win, and moving to 3-1 in UFC isn't terrible, but we're easily reminded about his split decision loss against Jake Shields where he could have won, yet he was pitted in a boring fight and didn't take it to himself to make the action just a wee bit more entertaining.
Still, you could say he was winning the fight up until it was stopped ... you could also say there was a lot of time left for Condit to storm back.
Speaking about Shields, he too was in the title discussion ahead of this bout; however, that's long gone after Hector Lombard dominated him on the feet and tormented him in the grappling exchanges.
After hearing Rogan crash on Lombard's party, saying "Lightning" could have been tired since he was not doing anything when he took Shields down (partly true), he perhaps influenced the people to believe Lombard shouldn't get a title fight either.
And really, he shouldn't.
Apart from Lombard's destruction over Rousimar Palhares and Nate Marquardt, he's lost two fights in UFC, which were extremely bad stinkers against Yushin Okami and Tim Boetsch, and the right decision would be for him to take another fight.
Here's where Rory MacDonald comes in, itching to have his name pulled out of the lottery.
He looked good against Demian Maia a few weeks back at UFC 170, and then demanded a title shot. He was beat by Lawler before that particular fight, so there's still work to be done.
With that being said, Mike Goldberg asked Rogan who the next challenger should be minutes before the broadcast went off the air last night, and there was already a video montage of "Ares" being screened as Rogan made his pick.
UFC is really trying hard to market MacDonald as the new GSP, and quite frankly, they need to pump the brakes on this fight because MacDonald isn't the clearest of contenders. We get they want to shove the "new breed of fighter" down our eye sockets, but this isn't the most logical fight to make.
Speaking of illogical fights, there's Nick Diaz, too.
After he taunted Hendricks at the weigh in, it's obvious the pride of Stockton is showing up to these UFC events because he's bored and wants to fight. He may be picky as to who he thinks he should be fighting, but give him credit for showing up and giving the media stiffies every time he opens his mouth so they can report it.
Yes, he's lost two fights in a row, both title fights. He may not warrant a third shot, but if the fans want you there, and you muster up enough prattle, you could get the spot -- and Diaz is a perfect candidate for what has just been mentioned.
Nobody would object to a Diaz vs. Lawler rematch, either.
Finally, there are the guys on the outside looking in, like "The Immortal" Matt Brown, who had his six-fight winning streak forgotten about after suffering a major injury, alongside the winner of Jake Ellenberger vs. Tarec Saffiedine in a few weeks at UFC 172.
The division is nowhere near a shortage of challengers. It's as wide open as everyone thought it would be. The problem is the welterweight sweepstakes are now for the taking, with a bunch of 170 pounders riding in the same boat.
It becomes a question of who deserves it more, combined with who is going to make it an exciting fight as the business aspect of the fight game sinks in, too. Fortunately for "Bigg Rigg," he could enjoy a vacation with his family and not worry about this stuff until the brass sorts it out.
So, how long is St. Pierre out for, again?
For complete UFC 171: "Hendricks vs. Lawler" fight coverage, including results, recaps and video highlights, click here.