Robbie Lawler is ranked No. 1 in the world at 170 pounds, and is likely to stay that way following a technical knockout win over Jake Ellenberger at the UFC 173 pay-per-view (PPV) event last Sat. night (May 24, 2014) inside MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada (highlights here).
But will he get the next shot at the welterweight title?
"How could you deny him the fight?" asked UFC President Dana White at the UFC 173 post-fight press conference (watch it here). "The fight with (Johnny) Hendricks [at UFC 171] was awesome. With his performance before the Hendricks fight, there's no doubt he's the No. 1 guy in the world."
That makes things a little fuzzy at the top.
That's because Rory MacDonald and Tyron Woodley are both fighting for a crack at the division crown -- currently worn by the injured "Bigg Rigg" -- in the UFC 174 co-main event next month in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and the "Ruthless" win for Lawler means both "Ares" and "The Chosen One" are under pressure to perform.
A tepid performance or close decision win could have the winner playing second fiddle.
But there is hope for both MacDonald and Woodley, as White revealed during the UFC 173 post-fight media scrum (replay here) that Lawler is coming off consecutive fight camps and hasn't seen much of his family in recent months, in addition to his relocation to Florida.
"Robbie jumped in and fought this Ellenberger fight when he wasn't even supposed to. He was supposed to fight Saffiedine. Robbie's moving right now, he's moving his family down to Florida. Buying a new house, gotta move down there and he just did two back-to-back camps. Said he hasn't seen his kids in like 14 weeks or something like that, something crazy."
Of course, much could also depend on how quickly Hendricks returns from his injured bicep.
What we do know is that it's an exciting time for the UFC welterweight division, once stagnant under the reign of Georges St. Pierre. But who do you, as a fan, want to see get the next shot at 170-pound gold? Lawler, or winner of MacDonald vs. Woodley?