After Saturday’s controversial decision at UFC 167, Johny Hendricks may be a champion without a title.
If he truly believes he defeated Georges St-Pierre though, then he should consider putting his money where his mouth is. Possession may be nine-tenths of the law, but there’s an old adage that perhaps carries a bit more weight: Perception is reality.
So if Hendricks wants to convince the world that he is the champ, he should act like the champ. Here’s 5 ways Hendricks can pull off the role of people’s champ, even without 20 pounds of gold around his waist.
1: Buy A Title Belt
After Chael Sonnen nearly defeated Anderson Silva, he bought a replica championship belt and did the talk show circuit acting as though he was champion because he beat Silva for four out of five rounds. Sonnen eventually tapped out, and he still pulled off the gimmick with a sense of believability.
Hendricks was never hurt in the fight, so the idea of calling himself the champion would be way more believable than it was with Sonnen. Hendricks needs to wear the gold and rattle off lines such as this when asked why he’s wearing the belt: “Two judges in Las Vegas are entitled to their opinion, but the truth is that millions of people around the world with sets of eyes that work and hearts that beat know that Johny Hendricks is the best welterweight on the planet, and if you don’t agree with me, well maybe you should spend more time watching figure skating than MMA.”
2: Demand A Rematch at AT&T Stadium in Texas.
George St-Pierre has had plenty of matches in Canada. Now it’s time for GSP to fight on someone else’s main turf. With 70,000 fans screaming for him, Hendricks would have the ultimate home field advantage and GSP would for the first time be the “bad guy” in the building. After losing the close decision, the UFC and GSP should do everything it can to accommodate Hendricks.
3: Join UFC President Dana White In Calling For Reform
Dana White said the Nevada State Athletic Commission is ruining MMA. The problem is that White complains so often about so many things that it is sometimes difficult to know when to take him seriously. But if the guy who believes that he got robbed in the fight comes out as White’s partner in the fight for better judging, the movement could pick up momentum. Hendricks could talk about the amount of money he lost from the getting the bad decision and serve as a spokesman for understanding how two judges ruled the fight for St-Pierre.
4. Call for an independent review of the fight and a reversal of the decision
Historically, bad decisions stand, no matter how bad they are. Hendricks, if he truly feels he was wronged, should ask that an outside panel review the fight and decide who really won. If an independent panel decides that Hendricks actually won, Hendricks should ask White to strip GSP of the title and put it on Hendricks.
5. Pull a Marvelous Marvin Hagler and Walk Away
So imagine Hendricks says he watched the fight again and is even more outraged that he didn’t get the decision. He says he’s a professional athlete who doesn’t have $15 million in the bank like the former Canadian champion does, so he can’t afford to get “robbed” of the title. Hendricks, with his fake UFC belt, and refusal to mention GSP’s name, should walk away from the UFC and say he’s going to take some time off until he can be assured that the next time he fights, he’s going to get a fair decision.
“I don’t mind getting knocked out or submitted, or losing a decision,” Hendricks could say. “But if these judges are going to take food off my table and hurt my ability to make a living, I’d be better off doing something else or fighting for another company.” (Hagler, of course, lost a controversial decision to Sugar Ray Leonard in the 1980s and walked away, costing himself and boxing tens-of-millions of dollars. Hagler was regarded as one of the best fighters on the planet at the time, but felt he was robbed to complete the well-marketed Leonard’s comeback story after suffering a career-ending eye injury).
Hendricks would be taking a huge risk if he did this because he probably won’t make as much money in Bellator or the World Series of Fighting. But he may never win a title or even get a title shot again in the UFC. He could lose his next fight, or get injured in training. He could be just a memory one day, or the guy who helped call positive attention to the sport and help make the sport better for everyone.
Coming later: 5 Ways Georges St-Pierre Can Turn His Controversial Win Into Even Bigger Stardom