Since the pseudo-retirement of former long reigning champion Georges St-Pierre, the Welterweight Division of the UFC has been abuzz with contenders making claim to a title shot. Who will replace the the dominant champion we've all been used to seeing these last 7 or so years?
Well I don't yet have an answer for that question, but I do want to present an option to find current Champion Johny Hendricks' (16-2) next opponent.
The same night that gave us Johny Hendricks versus Robbie Lawler (22-10) for the vacant UFC Welterweight Championship, gave us two other very important match ups for the newly reinvigorated welterweight division. The first fight being Tyron Woodley (13-2) versus Carlos Condit (29-8) and Hector Lombard (34-4) versus Jake Shields (29-7).
The first bout of the two was Hector Lombard versus Jake Shields, in which we saw well known and very talented grappling Jake Shields get handled in every area of the fight. Lombard outstruck Shields and was able to throw him almost at will using his Judo skills, and then eventually the unanimous decision win.
The second bout, Woodley versus Condit, ended more bizarrely. The first round was very well contested Condit attempted to keep his range but Woodley found openings for right hands and was able to take Condit down. In the second round is where things went very south for Condit. During a double leg takedown for Woodley, Condit appeared to have injured his knee. When the two returned to their feet, Woodley landed a heavy leg kick that spun Condit around and his leg gave out from underneath him. He was unable to continue and thus Woodley was given the TKO win.
In my honest opinion neither of these two wins in and of themselves warrant either man a title shot. However, if the UFC were to match the two up, I think we could see who in the welterweight division is a clear number one contender for Hendricks' title.
Breaking the two men down, it's clear that they're an excellent match up and are sure to provide a great fight for fans.
Tyron Woodley is a gifted wrestler with power in his punches, he's a former Strikeforce Welterweight Title Contender and has faced some very tough competition in his time (Nate Marquardt, Jake Shields, and as mentioned Carlos Condit). I think he'd push the pace on Lombard and try to get the bigger man to the floor, that said Woodley is one of the more powerful Welterweights, he's very physically strong.
Hector Lombard is a former Olympic Judoka, who also has power in both of his hands, he's a former Bellator Fighting Championships Middleweight Champion and since coming to the UFC has faced some upper echelon competition himself (Rousimar Palhares and Yushin Okami at Middleweight, and Nate Marquardt and Jake Shields at Welterweight).
To me another aspect of this match up that makes it so interesting is that Lombard holds a win over both of the men who've beaten Woodley (Marquardt and Shields). I'd like to see personally how much Woodley has improved and learned from those losses.
But the intriguing part of this match up doesn't just end with Lombard having wins over the only two men to beat Woodley it also continues into the methods by which he defeated the two, Shields was able to outwork Woodley for a decision win, and Marquardt was able to outstrike him and eventually KO Woodley. Lombard outgrappled/outworked and earned a decision win over Jake Shields (much like Shields did to Woodley) and Lombard KO'd Nate Marquardt in the first round of their fight.
If Woodley could gain ONE win over Lombard, he would've in a lot of fans' minds avenged his only two losses with just that one win.
The way I see this playing out, in a five round main event fight, Woodley will push the pace early in an attempt to wear out Lombard. Lombard will toss Woodley a few times and secure the first and second round with his takedowns. Going into the third Lombard will be noticeably slower but still able to control and outmuscle Woodley. Woodley will get frustrated and go for broke. He'll swing on Lombard and get caught with a big left hand, probably a straight and it'll rock him. Lombard will attempt to jump on him and put him away, Woodley will survive the round. The fourth round will start and Lombard will immediately attack and pin Woodley to the cage where he'll eventually hurt Woodley and get the TKO win.
Or there's always Nick Diaz.....
That's just my opinion, what do you think fight fans?