Strikeforce Finale: Why UFC's Johny Hendricks Was the Biggest Winner

McKinley Noble@KenTheGreat1Correspondent IJanuary 13, 2013

Now that Nate Marquardt has fallen, Johny Hendricks has one less barrier to UFC gold.
Now that Nate Marquardt has fallen, Johny Hendricks has one less barrier to UFC gold.Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Does anyone remember that knockout artist Johny Hendricks was supposed to be the next challenger in line to face UFC champion Georges St-Pierre?

For a moment there, it seemed like some MMA fans forgot.

Going into the final Strikeforce event on Saturday, questions were already being asked about the likelihood that Nate Marquardt, the promotion's welterweight champion, might have to face his own teammate for the 170-pound UFC title.

Thankfully for Hendricks, Tarec Saffiedine came along and upset Marquardt in a beautiful display that saw the Greg Jackson MMA fighter chopped down with savage leg kicks and gusty striking.

In one of the year's biggest upsets, so far, that's one less challenger who could potentially leapfrog the deserving Hendricks.

Granted, "Bigg Rigg" hasn't been very high on the UFC's priority list lately.

Despite notching three "Knockout of the Night" awards in a dominant 5-0 stretch over the last two years, Hendricks has been cheated out of his rightful title shot by St-Pierre.

Instead of facing GSP for the welterweight title, he'll instead have to battle Jake Ellenberger at UFC 158 while Nick Diaz slides into the main event.

As usual, it's another case of the term "No. 1 contender" not meaning much in the UFC.

"Dollars over sense" has been the major impetus behind Hendricks getting shafted from the welterweight title picture, as St-Pierre vs. Diaz will most likely make substantially more money on pay-per-view than St-Pierre vs. Hendricks would.

That's also been the same reasoning behind Jon Jones vs. Chael Sonnen, as the former middleweight talked his way into a title shot and a coaching stint opposite Jones on The Ultimate Fighter.

Had Marquardt beaten Saffiedine in the same brutal fashion as he did in his Strikeforce title fight debut against Tyron Woodley, it's not crazy to think that he may have leapfrogged Hendricks.

But with Marquardt out of the picture, that's one less potential obstacle between Hendricks and Georges St-Pierre. That is, unless he loses to Ellenberger—or Diaz somehow pulls off the upset of the year in Montreal this coming March.

McKinley Noble is an MMA conspiracy theorist and FightFans Radio writer. His work has appeared in GamePro, Macworld and PC World. Talk with him on Twitter.