Johny Hendricks cleared to resume light training soon after biceps surgery, targets next fight in late 2014

USA TODAY Sports

It's time to warm up that "Bigg Rigg."

It's been about five weeks since newly-crowned Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight Champion Johny Hendricks underwent surgery (see graphic pics here) to repair a torn right biceps muscle.

Based on the initial post-op diagnosis, "Bigg Rigg" is on schedule to resume "light" mixed martial arts (MMA) training, according to a report from Ariel Helwani on "UFC Tonight" earlier this evening. In fact, in about three weeks, doctors have given Hendricks the green light to get back in the gym and begin his road to recovery. And if all goes well, Hendricks is (still) gunning to make his first-ever 170-pound title defense sometime between Sept.-Nov. 2014.

His return can't come soon enough.

Hendricks, who toppled Robbie Lawler at UFC 171, which took place at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas, on March 15, 2014, to win the belt that long-time champion Georges St-Pierre vacated in late 2013, is on the short list of champions who can anchor a major pay-per-view (PPV) card.

If only on intrigue (at this point) alone.

Light Heavyweight and women's Bantamweight champions, Jon Jones and Ronda Rousey, respectively, have had to carry the marquee load with St-Pierre gone, Heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez injured, Lightweight champion Anthony Pettis injured and tied up with The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) and 185-pound kingpin, Chris Weidman, still looking to escape the shadow if Anderson Silva despite two wins over "The Spider."

It's scary, really, how few stars UFC currently has at its disposal.

Perhaps the only silver lining is that there is no clear-cut No. 1 Welterweight contender at the moment. The winner of the match between No. 2-ranked Rory MacDonald and No. 3-ranked Tyron Woodley at UFC 174 might make the case, but even still, one more win might put him over the top with Lawler, Matt Brown, Hector Lombard and Jake Ellenberger, among others, on the outside looking in.

Here's to hoping for a smooth Hendricks recovery, great fights between Matt Brown vs. Erick Silva and Robbie Lawler vs. Jake Ellenberger, and the winners of each match keeping the division warm while "Bigg Rigg" gets better.

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