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Monday Morning Hangover: What's next for Johny Hendricks after knockout loss to Stephen Thompson?

Esther Lin/ MMA Fighting

Another weekend of fisticuffs has come and gone, as UFC Fight Night 82 blew the roof off MGM Grand Garden Arena last Saturday night (Feb. 6, 2016) in Las Vegas, Nevada.

For complete UFC Vegas coverage including play-by-play results click here.

Plenty of fighters were left licking their wounds, including Jared Rosholt, who dropped a tepid decision loss to Roy Nelson (recap here). And Alex Nicholson, who got his jaw fractured by the very powerful Misha Cirkunov and his air-tight neck crank.

See it again here.

But which fighter is suffering from the worst post-fight hangover, now 48 hours removed from the show?

Johny Hendricks.

The former welterweight champion looked to keep his momentum going after his previous win over Matt Brown by picking up his second consecutive win against the streaking Stephen Thompson. In doing so, "Bigg Rigg" would try to create a cluster in the title hunt.

No such luck.

For the first time in his pro career, Hendricks was stopped via knockout, as Thompson unleashed his impressive and well-rounded striking attack to flatten one of the hardest hitters (and most durable chins) in all of mixed martial arts (MMA) in the very first round.

From the get-go, "Wonderboy" used his unorthodox stance to create space and pick his shots. To that end, it seemed that every punch and kick was calculated. What's even more impressive, it appeared that not a single strike was wasted, seemingly finding its mark time after time.

In the end, Thompson -- the karate practitioner -- unleashed a deadly combination of spinning back kicks, knees, and punches that ultimately floored "Bigg Rigg" to force a referee stoppage.

And he made it look easy.

While a title shot could be looming for "Wonderboy," his victim's fighting future doesn't seem as bright. Sure, he can climb his way back up to title contention, but he's going to have his work cut out for him after suffering a devastating loss in a fight most in the MMA community expected him to win.

In addition, the defeat will likely send Hendricks tumbling down the official UFC rankings -- where he currently sits at No. 2 -- which means climbing back to the top will be a battle in and of itself.

Fortunately for Hendricks, there is another big name opponent in the welterweight division who needs to turn his fortunes around, as well.

Rory MacDonald.

After losing his championship fight against Robbie Lawler, "Red King" needs a big win to erase the memory of the brutal beatdown. And since this fight is no longer happening, a 170-pound showdown against "Bigg Rigg" could be what UFC matchmakers order.

A win for either man could do wonders for their respective careers.

That said, there are other options available should a MacDonald bout not be on Joe Silva's radar, as Nick Diaz could be looking for a fight once his suspension is up later this year. So a match up against Hendricks could make for must-see TV.

And the two men have somewhat of a history.

Whether or not Hendricks is a "big" enough fight for the Stockton slugger, is another story.

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