(A seemingly victorious Hendricks celebrates immediately after the fifth round ended, before the judges decision was announced. / Photo via Getty)
By Matt Saccaro
UFC 167 left the welterweight division in a violent tailspin from which it might not recover.
Heading into the PPV, the UFC trotted out the tired “If you were to build a fighter that could beat [insert champion], it’d be [insert challenger]” marketing formula. True, challenger Johny Hendricks‘ great wrestling and powerful hands were a great stylistic matchup against champion Georges St.Pierre‘s takedowns and iffy chin. But the MMA world said the same things about Josh Koscheck. His wrestling was too good for GSP to take him down, and since GSP couldn’t take him down, Koscheck would make use of his advantage in striking power. This, of course, didn’t happen. GSP jabbed Koscheck’s orbital bone into splinters for 25 minutes.
So why should we have expected anything else from GSP-Hendricks? GSP was the dominant champ. Hendricks was the Guy to Beat GSP™ of the month; a challenger who was, in reality, no challenge at all.
This fight was intertwined with another: Rory MacDonald vs. Robbie Lawler.
Do you think it was a coincidence that Rory MacDonald and GSP were fighting on the same card? The UFC was likely hoping for both MacDonald and St.Pierre to be victorious. Dana White could fulfill his sick fantasy of watching teammates fight, and the UFC would have a highly bankable future title fight: Georges St.Pierre vs. Rory MacDonald, the fight that sells itself. The biggest star (according to Dana) in the UFC’s history would fight his protegee over the holy grail of MMA: A UFC title. Dana White insisted before UFC 167 that the fight was going to happen.
But you know the saying about the best laid schemes of mice and men (and fight promoters)…