UFC 171: "Hendricks vs. Lawler" could have been considered a four-man PRIDE welterweight grand prix tournament featuring incomparable talent on the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) roster.
The main event had Johny Hendricks against Robbie Lawler (highlights here), in what turned out to be an instant classic as "Bigg Rigg" received the nod from the judges to take home the welterweight championship left vacated by Georges St. Pierre.
All was set for the co-main event winner to face the main event winner (well, more or less).
Tyron Woodley defeated Carlos Condit in the second round, after Condit's knee blew out, as he grimaced in pain on the mat (highlights here). Fast-forward a few days later, and this welterweight division is in shambles.
We get to all the juicy stuff below, with our "Great Expectations," fresh off the stands:
What We Expected: An all-out war from two wrestlers-turned-strikers for five rounds, with the possibility of the fight being finished in the first round.
What We Learned: Maybe Hendricks against Lawler being a great fight was too good to be true, and some may have underestimated the toughness of both athletes thinking this could have been over early.
Every time we see a great fight, include me as one of those chaps who says this was one of the best fights ever, and so on, and so forth. We witnessed a pretty special fight over the weekend. There was brawling, a little bit of wrestling, right bombs and left hooks, and even some blood.
I'm not sure where this ranks as one of the greatest fights ever, yet it could be included as one of the top five welterweight fights of all time.
Surely, we expected this to be a war, but we didn't know for sure if it would last five rounds. Not only did both bruisers hurt each other badly, but also, there was no quitting or breaks for respiration -- except maybe in the fifth round, when Hendricks got the important takedown to seal the deal).
When we expect something good to happen, and it does, the outcome is modest, no matter how you could have scored it.
What We Expected: An all-out war from two well-rounded studs for five rounds, with the possibility of the fight being finished in the first round.
What We Learned: This is where the picture gets foggy.
We didn't get any clarity in this scrap, except for Woodley getting the better of Condit until the injury happened in the second round.
I'm going to go out on a limb here (pun sort of intended) and say Woodley was winning the fight, and this doesn't tarnish "T-Wood's" win in the record books; however, it will according to fans and savants alike who believe Woodley's win was fortunate.
Maybe those same folks voiced their disapproval when Chris Weidman beat Anderson Silva in similar fashion the second time around.
If Woodley was set to challenge the main event winner before Saturday night had he won (which he wasn't guaranteed a title shot, but Condit kind of was), then we shouldn't be having this conversation.
With that being said, his name wasn't uttered at the post-fight presser by UFC head honcho Dana White, and if you think the brass isn't reluctant to put him in a title bout, then you haven't been paying attention.
Now, combine this with Lombard's dominant yet not overly fascinating win against Shields, this division has become messy. People are throwing around the names of Rory MacDonald (1-1 in his last two) and Nick Diaz (0-2 in his last two, which were title fights) in the bunch, further proving nobody has an answer as to who should face Hendricks next.
I say it should be Woodley.
His win shouldn't be viewed as lucky since he took Condit down and forced the injury, if we want to get into specifics.
I'll also say Woodley may not be the most entertaining option.
Any more suggestions?
For full UFC 167: "Hendricks vs. Lawler" coverage, click here.