Fortunes changed for five at UFC 171
From MMAFighting.com (By Dave Meltzer on Mar 17 2014, 2:00p):
Johny Hendricks hadn't even had time to wash his blood-soaked face when challenges were coming from every direction for the new UFC welterweight champion.
Tyron Woodley and Hector Lombard, both fresh off wins Saturday night, issued challenges at the post-fight press conference. Rory MacDonald wasn't in Dallas, so he did a long distant tweet asking for a match on June 14 in Vancouver, B.C., the province he grew up in. The reality is that date sounds a little early for Hendricks, who noted he wanted to spend some time with his family after coming out of nothing short of a war.
Meanwhile, there is also interest in Robbie Lawler, who beat MacDonald, and at times Saturday night seemed on the verge of beating Hendricks. Nick Diaz was in Dallas, and made it clear that he wants back into the UFC, and a shot with Hendricks.
And there are others, like Dong Hyun Kim and Matt Brown, who probably shouldn't be mentioned as contenders for the next shot, but may be one name win away from being added to the party.
"I went after the top guy," Woodley said about facing Carlos Condit, who he stopped in the second round when Condit's knee went out.
He noted his persistence in asking to face the best in Condit, and beating him, in his mind makes him deserving of the next shot.
"Me and Johny Hendricks have some unfinished business from the Big 12 days," Woodley said. "I would love to get my hands on him, and I think it's a crazy fight."
Woodley was a contemporary of Hendricks when both were college wrestlers, Hendricks at Oklahoma State and Woodley at Missouri. Both competed at 165 pounds, and were among the best in the nation, but Hendricks at the time was a step above.
In 2005, Hendricks beat Woodley for the conference championship. He went on to win the national championship, while Woodley placed seventh.
Lombard waited for Hendricks to show up to directly challenge him. His best argument for getting the next title shot is he soundly beat Jake Shields, and Shields beat Woodley. He also knocked out Nate Marquardt, who knocked out Woodley.
"I would like to take that, please," Lombard said when looking at Hendricks and the title belt.
"Who wants to see me fight Johny Hendricks in Vancouver for the UFC welterweight title?," said MacDonald on Twitter. "Bringing the title back to Canada."
In sorting out this list, Lawler just lost. It was a close, competitive fight that is likely to be in the running for match of the year, there are three top contenders who just won over major opposition that have to be ahead of him. Similarly, Diaz may garner headlines and would probably do the best business against Hendricks of anyone not named Georges St-Pierre, but coming off two straight losses, taunting a guy at weigh-ins and garnering talking points shouldn't be enough to leapfrog the pack.
"I need a title fight, a real fight, let the fans see what they want to see," said Diaz. "I want to fight for the title."
Dana White was noncommittal about the logjam, and didn't say much past the point that he wasn't aware Diaz wanted to fight. He also this past week on a few occasions said that St-Pierre would fight again. With his long tenure as champion and the fact his fight would be the one the public would have the most interest in, and he did get his hand raised against Hendricks on Nov. 16 in one of the most talked about decisions in recent memory, a title shot could be his for the asking.
"I'm not going to call anybody out," said Hendricks. "I always called the champion out because I wanted to be him. Now that I'm him, I'm keeping my mouth shut."
Hendricks did say he'd like to fight St-Pierre, which would be the biggest potential fight in the division right now, and one could argue it would be among the biggest ever.
For the next shot, the logical three are Woodley, Lombard and MacDonald, with one getting the shot and the other two facing off for the next shot. Diaz vs. Lawler makes sense as a redemption fight, particularly since the two met ten years ago when they wee starting out, a fight Diaz won via knockout.
Of those three, MacDonald (16-2), has won only one fight in a row, but has also won six out of seven with his lone loss a split decision to Lawler. He looked strong on Feb. 22 against Demian Maia, winning a decision after dropping the first round.
Woodley (13-2) has two wins in a row, both finishes against top ten fighters, with the Condit win following a first-round knockout win over Josh Koscheck on Nov. 16. But he lost to Shields before that, and was knocked out by Marquardt two fights earlier.
But the feather in his cap, and the one that may give him the edge, is he looked the most impressive of the three in their most recent wins, dominating Condit in the first round before Condit's knee went out. It's also meaningful stopping Condit, whose last time being finished in a fight was in 2006.
Lombard (34-4-1, 1 no contest) has a claim to fame of being dominant over both fighters who beat Woodley, in his only two fights after dropping from middleweight. Shields put up very little offense against Lombard in losing a decision, and Marquardt only lasted 1:48 before being knocked out. Also impressive was the way he overpowered Shields in grappling, using the Olympic judo that he didn't use much of as a small middleweight. Unlike MacDonald, who is 24, and Woodley, who is almost 32, Lombard just turned 36, so time is not his ally.
From a box office standpoint, there's no appreciable difference of the three.
Woodley seems to have a slight edge overall, based on his two clear-cut finishes and a storyline of his personal rivalry dating back to their college years.
UFC 171 would probably battle with the show few watched two weeks ago from Macau, China as the company's two best this year. Besides the title fight, which stole the show, there were two other fights that would have won a best fight bonus on most cards. Both were on the FS 2 prelims, Jessica Andrade's split decision win over Raquel Pennington, and Alex Garcia's split decision win over Sean Spencer.
Two notable records were set. Hendricks and Lawler combined for 308 significant strikes in their five round battle, an all-time record for a UFC championship fight. It broke the record of 256 set in the interim welterweight title fight between Condit and Diaz on February 4, 2012 at UFC 143. With Hendricks landing 158 of those strikes, he also set the individual record.
In addition, the crowd of 19,324 at the American Airlines Center set the all-time attendance record for an MMA show in the United States. The previous record was 19,079, set on March 3, 2007, at UFC 68 in Columbus, Ohio, the night Randy Couture won the heavyweight title over Tim Sylvia. By the next morning, there were several billboards on highways in Dallas, where he now lives, with his photo on them, congratulating him for winning the UFC crown.
As far as Fortunes Changing For Five, you've got the three welterweight winners already mentioned, and two others.
MYLES JURY - Jury moved to 14-0 with a decision win over Diego Sanchez, although he did lose to Al Iaquinta via split decision while filming season 15 of The Ultimate Fighter. In Diego Sanchez, he had, by far, his biggest name victim to date. He had promised to take Sanchez out of his usual all-out street fighter style and turn it into a technical fight, where he would have a huge advantage. And that was largely the story of the fight. With most of the lightweights booked, Abel Trujillo and Joe Lauzon look to be decent next steps.
DENNIS BERMUDEZ - Bermudez (14-3), got a best performance bonus on a night that was filled with contenders for that award. The former Division I wrestler is best known for being on The Ultimate Fighter season 14, where he lost in the finals, and for one of last year's best fights, a decision win over Matt Grice. His win over Jimmy Hettes, with a knee strike in the third round, made six wins in a row. That puts him in the top 20 of all-time in that category, and may set him up for his first true major name opponent.