posted on December 20, 2012 09:43
I genuinely feel bad for Johny Hendricks. The man has been on a roll, with five straight wins, many of them over fellow top welterweight contenders (Jon Fitch, Josh Koscheck, Martin Kampmann). Not only is Hendricks winning fights, the OSU wrestling standout often finishes them, including brutal KO victories over Fitch and Kampmann. After disposing of Kampmann in 46 seconds at UFC 154, Hendricks seemed primed to be the next challenger for Georges St-Pierre’s welterweight crown.
While Hendricks will be featured on the March 16th card at UFC 158 (the same show headlined by GSP), the two will not square off. Instead, St-Pierre will defend the title against the returning Nick Diaz, coming off both a loss (against Carlos Condit) and a year-long suspension (testing positive for marijuana metabolites following the Condit fight). Hendricks, meanwhile, is faced with a ‘no-win’ situation, taking on the tough Jake Ellenberger. If Hendricks wins, his top contender status goes unchanged, and he continues to wait for his name to be called. If he loses, however, any chance of a future title shot will be out the window.
Diaz has seemingly jumped to the front of the contenders’ line because of his mouth. Diaz has displayed a black belt in smack-talking to compliment his black belt in jiu-jitsu. Because of his verbal jabs at GSP over the last year-plus, Diaz has been handed the next shot at the welterweight title (despite not registering a victory since October 2011).
On the other hand, at least Nick Diaz is still relevant in his weight class. This cannot be said for Chael Sonnen, a fighter with a career 14-7-1 record at light-heavyweight, who will cut past Lyoto Machida, Dan Henderson, and Alexander Gustaffson to challenge Jon Jones for the 205-pound crown on April 27th. Like Diaz, Sonnen’s words seem to carry more weight than his recent performance in the cage. Coming off a second loss to Anderson Silva, Sonnen immediately turned the focus of his ire to Jones, attacking him in website interviews, on UFC programming, and in social media. UFC President Dana White saw dollar signs, and booked the duo to coach the upcoming season of the fledgling Ultimate Fighter reality show.
At the end of the day, the UFC is a business. Their goal is to make money, not necessarily provide a forum for athletic competition. While Johny Hendricks-GSP would like by a more competitive fight, Nick Diaz-GSP will easily draw more viewers. Chael Sonnen-Jon Jones will likely be a first-round slaughter, but Sonnen will trash-talk pay-per-view buys into the upper six-figure range, something Gustaffson and Machida cannot do.
As Dan Henderson recently tweeted, “I guess I should just quit training to win fights and to be exciting for the fans and just go to sh** talking school.”