Robbie Lawler is your new UFC welterweight champion, ladies and gentleman. Regardless of how you may have scored, Lawler did enough in the eyes of two judges and earned himself the split-decision win over Johny Hendricks at UFC 181 on Saturday night.

His next fight, however, is dependent on how intrigued UFC president Dana White and matchmaker Joe Silva are by the thought of a third fight in the Lawler vs. Hendricks trilogy or how interested they are in the possibility of Rory MacDonald finally becoming the next Georges St. Pierre.

For Anthony Pettis, who retained his lightweight championship with a second round submission win over Gilbert Melendez on Saturday, there really is only two viable options for his next title defense.

Travis Browne and Todd Duffee put on impressive performances at heavyweight and Urijah Faber, thanks to an inadvertent eye poke, continued his domination in non-title fights with a submission win over Francisco Rivera.

So where do we go from here?

 

Urijah Faber vs. Francisco Rivera

Not only should we have a rematch between these two because of the eye poke, but also because there doesn’t seem to be a ton of other options for Faber.

You could maybe give him Raphael Assuncao, but then you jeopardize the marketability of Assuncao as a contender who is on a seven fight win streak including a win over now-champion T.J. Dillashaw. There’s Michael McDonald, but Faber already beat him last year. Really your best option, outside of the top five, would be another fight with Rivera.

Faber, at best, is still probably two fights away from warranting another title shot, so why not make this rematch and hopefully see an ending that is conclusive without any controversy.

Tony Ferguson vs. Michael Johnson

In their first bout at the UFC on Fox: Diaz vs. Miller in 2012, Johnson picked up the win by unanimous decision. Johnson has since gone 4-2 and has won three of his past consecutive fights including wins over Joe Lauzon, Gleison Tibau, and Melvin Guillard.

Ferguson has also put together a nice little streak with four wins in a row and finished Abel Truijillo on Saturday in impressive fashion. He wants a top-10 opponent and a rematch with Johnson could vault him higher into the UFC rankings.

Travis Browne vs. the Winner of Junior dos Santos vs. Stipe Miocic

Everything comes down to the health of Cain Velasquez. If the champion is able to come back by the first half of next year, you could see the winner of Junior and Miocic being the next contender for what would be Fabricio Werdum’s heavyweight championship.

Now in the hypothetical assumption that Velasquez comes back and we have a title unification bout between him and Werdum, then the winner of Miocic and Junior could be matched up with Browne to create a number one contender.

Anthony Pettis vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov

In an interview with MMAFighting’s Ariel Helwani after the UFC 181 post-fight press conference, Nurmagomedov said he’ll be able to fight come April or May.

The UFC is returning to the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey for the promotion’s first FOX card in 2015 and they haven’t a title fight on network television since December of 2013 when Demetrious Johnson defeated Joseph Benavidez. That card was originally supposed to have Anthony Pettis defending his lightweight title against T.J. Grant.

I understand that Pettis could be a pay-per-view draw, but I don’t necessarily believe Khabib is even though he’s undefeated and has pretty much dominated everybody he’s fought in the UFC.

Put this fight on Fox. With it being so close to New York City, it’ll generate plenty of buzz and the fans will be ecstatic about it. The UFC would have an opportunity to have the biggest title fight that’s been on network television for them since the first one between Velasquez and Junior dos Santos.

Robbie Lawler vs. Johny Hendricks III

I believe this decision, from what I saw on social media, had enough people who saw the fight for Hendricks to warrant a third fight with Lawler.

As for my decision, I gave Hendricks the second and the third rounds and I scored the first, the fourth and the fifth rounds for Lawler.

Rory MacDonald has rolled through Damian Maia, Tyron Woodley, and Tarec Saffiedine since losing by a split decision to Lawler at UFC 167. He’s been chosen by the promotion as the successor to Georges St-Pierre and Dana White had already said he’d be the next challenger. All of this happened before we had another classic, close decision between Lawler and Hendricks and now MacDonald might have to wait a little bit longer to get his shot to rule the 170-pound division.

Let’s get this trilogy out of the way. If he wants it, give MacDonald a fight to stay busy against a guy he’ll probably beat and pray he doesn’t get hurt.