MMAOB Submission: Does UFC’s Welterweight Division Need New Blood?

Johny HendricksLast week, I wrote my thoughts on Georges St-Pierre potentially leaving the UFC due to an ongoing contract dispute. This week, I was not too surprised to read that the man who ultimately replaced GSP as the welterweight champion — Johny Hendricks — also come out recently and say he plans to retire if he loses his next fight against Neil Magny at UFC 207. Hendricks was briefly crowned the champ at 170 pounds following his unanimous-decision win over Robbie Lawler at UFC 171 in March of 2014. That seems like an eternity ago, as he later lost the belt via split decision in a rematch with Lawler at UFC 181 less than nine months later. After bouncing back with a UD victory against Matt Brown at UFC 185, Hendricks has since lost two in a row, getting knocked out by Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson on February 6 and then falling to TUF 17 winner Kelvin Gastelum by UD at UFC 200 on July 9. He missed weight prior to the bout versus Gastelum, an ongoing problem for the four-time wrestling All-American at Oklahoma State, who also bowed out of a matchup with current welterweight champ Tyron Woodley slated for UFC 192 due to similar issues. Losing to Magny, another TUF alum, would not be an embarrassment for the 33-year-old Hendricks considering he has won 10 of his last 12 bouts. But it would definitely mark a crossroads for him, especially considering their fight will take place on the last UFC card of the year. He would no longer be a title contender, and many would probably argue he should not be ranked among the Top 10 welterweights any longer anyway. Meanwhile, a win for the 29-year-old Magny would also be huge for him, although a first-round TKO suffered at the elbows of Lorenz Larkin at UFC 202 in his last bout will not be easily forgotten. Regardless, Magny is the new blood the UFC needs in the division along with the likes of Gastelum and Thompson, who is favored to take the belt away from Woodley at UFC 205 next month. Even Larkin is an exciting fighter who defeated Lawler back in their Strikeforce days and can add some spice to the division. As much as I have been a fan of Hendricks, Lawler, Brown, Carlos Condit and Rick Story (all currently ranked in the Top 15) over the years, IT’S TIME (in my best Bruce Buffer voice) for a changing of the guard.

Written by Matty

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