When Johny Hendricks won the vacant UFC welterweight championship against Robbie Lawler at UFC 171 last March, he made it perfectly clear that he relished the thought of having a target painted on his back.
However, an injured bicep has forced the newly crowned champion to sit on the sidelines and watch as the rest of 170-pound landscape unfolds. During his recovery time Hendricks has become accustomed to hearing his name mentioned alongside phrases like "I earned my title shot," or "I deserve to be number one contender."
Even the recently retired Nick Diaz threw his name into the hat for a title fight after he witnessed what he called Hendricks getting his "a** whooped" against Lawler, declaring the champion's performance as "amateur style." The incredibly popular Diaz has made it known that a matchup with Hendricks is the only fight that would interest him enough to come out of retirement.
While a fight with the Stockton based fighter would most certainly be the most profitable for Hendricks, it would be difficult for the UFC to warrant such a matchup as Diaz is currently on a two fight losing streak, with his most recent loss being a very lopsided decision to former champion Georges St. Pierre in the main event of UFC 158 last March.
Making an appearance on the Power MMA Show on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, Hendricks responded to Diaz's recent comments and told him he would be more than happy to grant him a shot at the belt as long as he can prove himself against the current top-tier of 170-pounders first.
"You know what, here's the thing, it's like I tell everybody: win a fight," said Hendricks. "I know it's tough in our division, but win a fight and we'll see what happens. If you can win a fight and get out there and do good then I'd love to give you a shot."
But while a matchup with Diaz is little more than a hopeful wish in minds of MMA fans, a potential fight with the surging Matt Brown would not only make the most sense, but it would undoubtedly become one of the most highly anticipated matchups of the year.
Brown, who is coming off a thrilling come-from-behind third-round knockout over Erick Silva at UFC Fight Night 40, is currently riding an incredible seven-fight winning streak. While he has received some flack for his lack of top-10 opponents, no one is denying Brown's abilities as his five consecutive knockouts stands as the second longest streak in UFC history. The Cincinnati born fighter would go on to make waves after he called for his shot while guaranteeing he would be the one to knock out the durable Hendricks.
"Everybody thinks that they can knock out somebody. The only difference is it takes a lot of shots for him to knock somebody out," said Hendricks. "He hasn't gone out there and hit one person one time and laid them out. I have.
"If he's going get hit that many times by me, he's not going remember that night. That's perfect because here's a guy who's been talking some trash and thinks that he can hit me do this do that because once we get in there and I actually hit him with my left hand, he won't remember what he was talking beforehand."
Brown has already been scheduled to face off with the fellow knockout artist Lawler in the main event of UFC on Fox 12 in San Jose with the winner finally determining the new number one contender. But Hendricks isn't too worried about who will be standing across from him inside that cage as he is solely focused on rehabbing his bicep.
"I guess what's different about me and everyone else is that I am not too worried about who it is. I don't care who it is, I don't care when it is, I just want to be healthy," said Hendricks. "That's all that I am focusing on right now is getting healthy. Everybody can talk and run their mouths. That's good because whenever it comes time to step into the octagon, they probably won't be speaking it if you know what I mean."