Jake Ellenberger still holds a grudge against Johny Hendricks.
That's because "Bigg Rigg" -- his original UFC 158 opponent -- left him high and dry at the "St. Pierre vs. Diaz" pay-per-view (PPV) after taking a "less dangerous" fight against Carlos Condit in early 2013. After beating "The Natural Born Killer" in Montreal, Hendricks went on to face Georges St. Pierre in a controversial loss.
Then claimed the division crown in his follow-up fight against Robbie Lawler.
But perhaps Ellenberger believes the bearded brawler would have never gotten that far, had he stuck around to tangle with "The Juggernaut" as originally planned. Not that it matters, according to comments he made to ESPN.com, since Hendricks will be turning over the strap within the next 12 months.
"To beat GSP, everything would have to be pinpoint and precise. With Johny, if you can threaten him with your power and dictate the pace, he's definitely beatable. I don't see Johny being the champion a year from now. There are so many good guys. There are big opportunities for anyone in the top 10. I'm not putting a lot of thought into it because I'm focused on this fight, but it's an exciting time."
But Ellenberger has some work to do if he wants to get his shot at pulling the sword from the stone. He's coming off a loss to top division contender Rory MacDonald and is tasked with turning away the aforementioned Lawler at the UFC 173 event over Memorial Day Weekend.
And if he wins?
He may not get a crack at the crown just yet, as that honor is likely to go to the winner of MacDonald vs. Tyron Woodley, who throw down at UFC 174 on June 14 in Vancouver. Then again, I hear Hector Lombard is looking for something to do this summer.
Anyone have a better idea?