Following every UFC and Invicta FC event, The MMA Corner will break down the event and suggest fights the promotion should make in the future. This week, our focus is on UFC 171: Hendricks vs. Lawler, which took place on March 15 from the American Airlines Center in Dallas.

Johny Hendricks vs. Tyron Woodley

Move over, Georges St-Pierre. There is a new face of the UFC’s welterweight division.

Johny Hendricks defeated Robbie Lawler by unanimous decision in a classic battle to claim the vacant title. The two brawlers had won two rounds each heading into the final round, and Hendricks controlled Lawler in the fifth to earn the strap he arguably deserved months ago.

Even with St-Pierre currently not in the mix, there are several notable names at 170 pounds waiting in line for Hendricks. Although there isn’t one guy that stands out significantly from the rest, Tyron Woodley does seem to be the leading candidate at this point.

Woodley fought Carlos Condit in the co-main event of UFC 171. Woodley won the fight after Condit suffered a knee injury and could not continue. It was an unfortunate ending, but Woodley will accept the win. He has now won three of his last four fights, making it hard to deny him a title shot.

The former Strikeforce standout has been campaigning for it, and he should receive his shot against Hendricks. Woodley poses different challenges for the champion than Lawler could offer. Like Hendricks, “The Chosen One” has a background in collegiate wrestling and possesses one-punch knockout power. With a big frame and high athleticism, Woodley has the tools to be a true threat to the new champ.

Myles Jury vs. Gray Maynard

It was a true rookie vs. veteran match-up on Saturday when Myles Jury squared off against The Ultimate Fighter 1 winner Diego Sanchez.

Jury put on an impressive technical performance to win via unanimous decision and improve his record to 14-0. Sanchez is slowly seeing his career plummet to a point where he could be close to hanging up the gloves, whereas Jury is just getting started. At 25 years old, Jury is still learning, but other lightweights should begin to take notice of him.

Up next for “Fury” should be a fight against another top-15 opponent. He should take another step up in competition to face a guy like Gray Maynard.

A former two-time title challenger, Maynard has lost back-to-back fights by TKO to T.J. Grant and Nate Diaz. The 34-year-old hasn’t fought since November, so his return should be approaching soon, as long as he isn’t plagued by injuries. Once that time comes, a fight against Jury would be a great opportunity for both men.

Jury wants to keep moving up the rankings, and beating a fighter like Maynard will further build his stock. Maynard, meanwhile, desperately needs a win to turn his career around. A meeting with Jury could give Maynard a chance to halt the hype and prove he still has what it takes to make another run towards the belt.

Hector Lombard vs. Rory MacDonald

The first of three welterweights bouts on the card was a clash between Hector Lombard and Jake Shields. It turned into a one-sided fight, to say the least. Shields performed poorly and Lombard capitalized to win the decision.

Lombard has now won consecutive bouts and put his name in the hat for title contention. The argument being made for Lombard over Tyron Woodley stems from Lombard’s wins over Shields and Nate Marquardt, a pair of fighters who each defeated Woodley. It’s a fair point, but Woodley has more momentum right now and could conceivably beat both guys right now if they rematched. Therefore, “Lightning” still needs another win to move towards that top position.

While he waits, the fight that makes the most sense for Lombard is a pairing with Rory MacDonald. I wrote about this match-up after MacDonald beat Demian Maia after UFC 170, and I’m sticking with it.

MacDonald still needs another win to get a title shot. Since the same can be said of Lombard, it makes perfect sense for the two men to meet, with the winner moving on to get the champion. The UFC could put this on a major pay-per-view main card or have it headline a card in a five-round bout. Either way, it would stand as a very important fight in the division.

Ovince St. Preux vs. Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante

Former University of Tennessee football player Ovince St. Preux opened up the main card with a submission of Nikita Krylov via a rare Von Flue choke. The stoppage also earned him “Performance of the Night” honors.

OSP has now won four in a row since his loss to Gegard Mousasi in 2011, and he has emerged as a potential threat to the light heavyweights who sit above him in the ranks. It’s time for him to move up a rung and challenge a top-15 name.

Up next for St. Preux should be a meeting against Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante.

The Brazilian resides just inside the UFC rankings of the light heavyweight top 15, but he has gone just 1-1 inside the Octagon. The former Strikeforce champion is coming off a November win over Igor Pokrajac and should be returning to action soon with hopes of extending his success. OSP could be standing in his way.

About The Author

Corey Adams
Staff Writer

Corey Adams didn't grow up watching mixed martial arts, considering the UFC was just getting started the year he was born, but in his teenage years, witnessed the action and has fallen in love with the sport. Corey was the first to join The MMA Corner staff -- other than founder Josh Davis -- and has been writing for the site ever since. Corey attends Austin Peay State University, where he majors in Communications with a focus on journalism. When he's not covering MMA, Corey is still writing on many sports with both local and campus newspapers. His favorite sports teams are the Atlanta Braves and Denver Broncos. Follow him on Twitter at the link below.