After Johny Hendricks defeated Carlos Condit at UFC 158 it looked like he would finally get a crack at the welterweight strap, but it seems that a shot at the title has once again evaded him, this time in the form of an Achilles tendon injury to welterweight kingpin Georges St. Pierre. GSP’s coach Firas Zihabi said Georges would be out for six-months, after just two fights back after teaching his ACL. One asks the question, is it fair to put the welterweight division on hold yet again? When GSP tore his ACL he was expected to be out for “up to six months” and he ultimately ended up returning after nearly nine. If Georges is going to miss another nine-months, in my opinion, it is only fair to give Johny Hendricks his title shot, but in the form of an interim title fight. The UFC now has their own rankings ladder, but who is really deserving of an interim title fight?
The UFC lists Carlos Condit as #2 on their rankings, below Johny Hendricks, but Condit is on a 2-fight losing streak, whereas Jake Ellenberger (#4 in UFC rankings) is on a 2 fight win streak, and is 8-2 in his last 10 fights. The UFC doesn’t necessarily have time for a title eliminator, below are my picks for fighters deserving of an interim title fight against Hendricks.
Former Marine Jake “The Juggernaut” Ellenberger made quite the statement in his last fight against former Strikeforce champion Nate Mardquart last Saturday, knocking Mardquart out in the first round. Ellenberger has explosive power in his hands, much like Hendricks, and also has a wrestling background, again much like Hendricks. Styles make fights, and when you put two of the hardest hitting fighters in the UFC in the Octagon together, one can almost guarantee a knockout. Ellenberger also recently called out Hendricks, saying he wants to “Wear Johny’s teeth as a necklace.” In my opinion, Ellenberger is the only healthy opponent worthy of a title fight.
Rory MacDonald vs. Johny Hendricks would also be an intriguing fight, however MacDonald is injured. MacDonald was scheduled to fight Carlos Condit at UFC 158, a rematch of their UFC 115 fight where Condit scored a TKO victory over MacDonald with 7 seconds left in the fight. The problem with MacDonald fighting for an interim belt is that he has previously stated that he does not want to fight fellow Tristar teammate Georges St. Pierre, thus limiting his options in the welterweight division.
What do you think PENNATION? If St. Pierre is sidelined for six months who should fight for the interim title if anyone?