Johny Hendricks, UFC welterweight division left in limbo while GSP mulls future

LAS VEGAS – Johny Hendricks doesn't see much room for shades of gray.

Scroll to continue with content

The Oklahoma native and Dallas resident is a NASCAR-loving country boy and he tends to see things in black and white.

So you probably wouldn't be surprised to hear that Hendricks feels he won his UFC 167 fight against welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, even if two of the three judges felt otherwise.

"I am the champion," said Hendricks. "I outjabbed him. I outwrestled him. I outhit him."

Hendricks is not alone with that opinion. A look at the reactions of other professional mixed martial artists shows they were vehement in their belief that Hendricks was the real winner of the bout. Likewise, a poll of media who scored the bout live found unanimous 48-47 scores in favor of the challenger.

But judges Sal D'Amato and Tony Weeks scored the fight in favor of St-Pierre, 48-47. Only one, Glenn Trowbridge, saw the 48-47 score in favor of Hendricks that the rest of the world saw. So Hendricks went home without the gold.

"I did everything to win the fight except to those two judges who didn't give it to me," Hendricks said. "I didn't prove it to them. That won't happen again. I'm going to come back stronger, I'm going to come back faster, and I'm going to get that belt. It sucks that the belt's not sitting right here."

The bizarre aftermath of the fight – from St-Pierre's vague announcement of a hiatus, to Dana White's press conference rants against both his champion and the athletic commission, to White and GSP apparently making up afterward – overshadowed Hendricks' performance.

But the UFC still has to put the pieces together on the division going forward.

The X-factor, of course, is how long St-Pierre sits out. If he can return within a reasonable time frame, then White has made it clear that a St-Pierre-Hendricks rematch is the only way he wishes to go.

"People want to see that rematch, especially if Johny Hendricks said he went 70 percent, you know?" White told reporters after talking to St-Pierre following the official presser. "Is he going to knock Georges St-Pierre out? Is GSP going to get over his issues, and is that what made him whatever in the fight. But there absolutely has to be a rematch, I don't care if only three people watch it, we have to do the rematch."

That said, this came within a half hour of St-Pierre saying things like "I can't sleep at night now. I have issues. I am going crazy."

That sounds like someone in need of a long vacation. And not just mentally – St-Pierre's face bore bruises and cuts to a degree that few fighters who have been able to make it to a press conference have ever displayed.

If there's a silver lining to the cloud hanging over the welterweight division, it's that it has plenty of fresh matchups to make if St-Pierre indeed needs to step away.

Carlos Condit, the former WEC champ and UFC interim champ, meets Matt Brown, who has won six straight bouts, in a feature fight at UFC on FOX 9 on Dec. 14. If Condit wins, a rematch with Hendricks, who defeated Condit in a tight decision at UFC 158, is a fight which can headline any card. If Brown wins, Hendricks vs. Brown is also a sellable fight.

Then there's the division's other hot fighter, veteran "Ruthless" Robbie Lawler. Lawler continued his resurgent 2013 by derailing the Rory MacDonald hype train with a split-decision victory on Saturday night.

That marked three straight wins for the 31-year-old American Top Team fighter, who entered the year without a UFC victory since 2003.

For his part, Lawler generously volunteered himself to fight Hendricks next.

"If Georges takes off for half a year or a year, Hendricks and I can fight for the interim title," said Lawler (22-9, 1 no-contest). "When Georges comes back, I can beat him up, too."

That remains to be seen. All this, of course, is moot to Hendricks, who remained remarkably composed during the post-fight press conference. When asked about St-Pierre's potential leave of absence and how that might impact his short-term future, Hendricks maintained a laser-vision focus on the belt.

"Dude, I don't care about Georges," he said. "I beat him anyway. I just want the belt. That's the only thing that's motivating me. I need to get it. That's my drive. I thought I got it tonight, but I guess I didn't. There's a lot of things I can pull from this fight, and I'm only going to get better. It was my first five-round fight, and I took it to the champ."

And if that's not enough, there's the tried-and-true eye test, the sort cited by people who get into backyard fights and bar brawls.

"My hands are busted up from hitting him in the face," Hendricks said. "Look at his face and look at mine."

Follow Dave Doyle on Twitter: @DaveDoyleMMA

What to Read Next