Prior to Saturday night, the structure of the UFC's welterweight division was perfectly clear; the winner of the UFC 181 main event between Robbie Lawler and Johny Hendricks would meet Canada's Rory MacDonald sometime in 2015.
However, that plan was quickly abandoned, or at least under consideration, once the main event culminated in the historic crowning of Lawler following a controversial split decision victory over the champ. Considering they split their two matches to date, UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes, who trained with Robbie Lawler at Miletich Fighting System, believes a rubber match is undoubtedly the next move the UFC should consider.
"You've got a guy that Robbie's already beat pretty decisively, and now you've got a great rematch where the first fight was close, the second fight was maybe even closer, and now the makings for a third fight," Hughes told MMAFighting.com's Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. "If I were Hendricks, I would want a direct rematch. And I would say that they're going for that, and I don't blame them."
According to Hughes, Lawler vs. Hendricks III comes with a built in storyline, while with MacDonald you have a fighter who Lawler recently defeated in convincing fashion.
"Now you've got a storyline for a really big third fight, where with MacDonald you've got a guy that Robbie beat a year ago. What do you do? I think you've really got to go with the Hendricks fight, but it doesn't matter to me."
The former UFC welterweight champion also explained why he considered Lawler to be the fighter of the year in 2014 following his turbulent journey to the coveted title.
"To me, Robbie is, after this win, he is fighter of the year in my eyes," he said. "He did have a loss, but he's come back and fought two other tough guys and here he is wearing the welterweight belt at the end of the year."
Transcription taken from MMAFighting.com