May 25, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; General view of UFC championship belt following UFC 160 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Who's Next for UFC Welterweight Gold

UFC 171 was supposed to crown a new welterweight champion and iron out a clear picture of who the next contender was in the welterweight division. The event only did one of those as Johny Hendricks defeated Robbie Lawler in a highly contested bout. Hector Lombard and Tyron Woodley both won their fights against Jake Shields and Carlos Condit, respectively, but they did not make the statement that the UFC brass was hoping they would. Although there is a new champ, there is not a clear cut #1 contender and that has Rory Mcdonald, Tyron Woodley, and Hector Lombard pleading their cases for the next shot.

Lombard looked impressive in manhandling Shields for two rounds before pumping the breaks in the third and coasting to a decision victory. A technique that was not taken kindly by either the crowd in attendance or UFC color commentator, Joe Rogan. Hector Lombard was ranked out of the top-10 before this fight. Saturday’s win moved him up six spots in the rankings to be ranked 6th, but in my opinion, not enough to challenge for the belt on his next fight.

Tyron Woodley was also a fighter that was ranked outside the top 10 going into UFC 171, and defeated the #2 welterweight in the world. The problem here was that he won due to a knee injury suffered by Condit. Sure the injury was a direct result of a takedown by Woodley, and when they stood back up, he intelligently attacked his legs causing the knee to dislocate and as a result, end the fight. But the fact remains that with that kind of win, it will be hard to sell a title fight from a guy who won by injury and was just ranked 12th last week and is only 3-2 in his last five fights. If anything, I would think that Lombard would have a better chance at the title shot on merit alone because he defeated Shields, who defeated Woodley as well as Carlos Condit and Robby Lawler.

Rory MacDonald has lost a lot of steam since his snoozfest fight with Jake Ellenberger and followed that performance up with a loss to Lawler. But is currently coming off an impressive decision win against Damien Maia and has gone up in the rankings to the number two spot. Despite his being sub-par in two of his last three fights, MacDonald has been at the top of the rankings for longer than the other guys in question and has fought higher caliber guys. MacDonald, in my opinion, should get the title shot before either Lombard or Woodley.

Now wait, before you start cursing my name let me make clear, that I don’t think neither of these guys should get the next title shot. Because of the odd nature of the results of UFC 171, I believe that all these guys should have one more fight to decide who gets the next shot. I would suggest, Hector Lombard vs Rory Macdonald and Tyron Woodley vs……..wait for it…..yes…. that’s right, none other than Stockton’s finest, Nick Diaz. Even though Diaz has not won a fight since 2012 he is no doubt, one of the biggest pay-per-view draws the UFC has left.

This might leave you asking, “So Rolando, who should fight for the belt next?” Well let me tell you. I think Lawler should get an immediate rematch for two reasons. First of all, the first fight was very close. The 1st round was razor close with both fighters being aggressive and standing in the pocket and banging. The 5th round, however, was the most interesting as it looked like Lawler was going to pull off the win until Hendricks, threw a couple of bombs that rocked Lawler and then proceeded to take Lawler down. Lawler essentially lost the fight in the last minute and half of the last round.

The second reason I think there should be an immediate rematch is because I feel this would be the easiest fight to sell. As one of my Cage Pages colleagues has said before, the UFC needs to set up title fights the fans want to see and I feel like Lawler vs Hendricks 2 is the one I want to see more than Hendricks vs. any of the three previously mentioned guys.

Hopefully the UFC makes their choice soon so we can stop the speculations and plan for the next Welterweight showcase. For now let’s all just sit back and see how this soap opera develops.

Please let me know what you think in the comments below.

Tags: Hector Lombard Johny Hendricks Robbie Lawler Rolando Lorenty Jr Rory MacDonald Tyron Woodley

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