In the days after the UFC's 20th anniversary celebration, UFC 167, ended amidst a flurry of outrage, controversy and confusion, several questions persist. The health and status of troubled UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre is thus far uncertain, as is the status of the UFC's 170-pound division moving forward. But understandably, the most distressing issue in the eyes of Ted Ehrhardt, manager of Johny Hendricks and founder of Team Takedown, is the initial controversy which kicked off the bizarre chain of events that stained UFC 167.
A badly hurt St-Pierre summoned the will to defeat Hendricks on Saturday night, taking a contentious split decision on two judges' scorecards due to MMA's 10-point must system, despite suffering far more damage than Hendricks over the course of 25 minutes. Afterward defenders of the decision noted that "damage" is not an official scoring criteria of the Unified Rules, though Ehrhardt scoffs at the notion.
"You say it's not, but it really is," Ehrhardt said on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour. "Because when you drop a guy, they put more on that, which is damage. Whether you want to believe it or not, when a guy gets cut open, that's in the judges' mind. These judges are human.
"It definitely seems like the rounds Johny (won), two and four especially, were clearly, clearly dominated way more than all the others put together. ... And then on the first round, which everybody is trying to say is closer, I don't believe it was that close because, again, I saw the significant strikes, but you've got to remember, GSP's significant strikes versus Johny's significant strikes are not equal. GSP throws a little jab that doesn't even mark up (or) touch him hardly, and Johny hits and wobbles him. [Those] are completely different significant strikes. You can't just look at number of strikes.
"People are like, oh, they had the same number of strikes, the same number of takedowns," Ehrhardt continued. "GSP took him down in the first few seconds, then [Hendricks] was up within, I don't know, three to five seconds. Johny took him down and held him down and controlled him there for -- I don't know the exact time, I haven't gotten to re-watch it -- but anyway, I think there's a pretty big difference. Maybe it is the scoring. I'm not sure. Something needs to get fixed."
In usual circumstances, the UFC's obvious next move would be to book an immediate rematch between Hendricks and St-Pierre. However, immediately following the decision, a dazed St-Pierre announced his intentions to take some time away from the sport. The uncertainty of the statement, and St-Pierre's general reluctance to designate it a retirement, threw the idea of a quick rematch in doubt.
By the end of the night though, after speaking personally to St-Pierre and addressing the personal issues which currently plague the welterweight champ, UFC President Dana White appeared confident a rematch would be in the cards.
"I haven't heard anything from the UFC, but I am (sure Hendricks' next fight will be a rematch) because Dana makes things happen," Ehrhardt said. "I mean, Anderson (Silva) after the (Chris) Weidman loss said he was done, then next thing you know, they've got a rematch scheduled. Dana makes the fights happen that the fans want to see. He's been great about that. GSP, being the champion he's been, surely would not want to go out on a fight that he lost and got a win. No respectful champion would want to go out on those terms. So I'm confident between that and Dana White making it happen, that yeah, we'll have a rematch next fight."
Ehrhardt expects the UFC to give St-Pierre a few weeks of separation before beginning to contact Hendricks' team about setting up a rematch. He noted that a potential 2014 date in March or April would be ideal, adding that the UFC's latest announced pay-per-view, UFC 171 on March 15 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, TX, a region where Hendricks carries plenty of support, would be "perfect."
However, should St-Pierre's words about stepping away from the sport prove to be true, Ehrhardt says Hendricks would be up for fighting a different opponent -- but only with an interim UFC welterweight belt on the line.
"Who's to say if a year (layoff) becomes two years," Ehrhardt explained. "So if [St-Pierre] is going to walk away, I think he should give up his belt and let us fight for the belt. Don't matter who it is (against).
"Like Johny said, it'd be wonderful to take the belt from GSP because he has been such a great champion. But the main thing is getting the belt. It's not beating GSP. I mean, we already kind of feel like we just did that."
Even in light of the scoring controversy, perhaps one of the jarring scenes from Saturday night came in the opening moments of the post-fight press conference. While St-Pierre was away being treated at a local hospital, a furious White unloaded into a vitriolic rant about how St-Pierre "owed" Hendricks, the belt, the fans and the UFC an immediate rematch.
White later calmed down as a battered St-Pierre arrived at the press conference. Though days later, Ehrhardt echoed White's general sentiment.
"I would hope GSP would come back and do the right thing," Hendricks' manager said. "If he's going through stuff, of course you feel bad for a guy for that. But he's made a lot of money in this sport. Like Dana said, he owes it to the sport, not just Johny and the UFC. The sport of MMA has really made him who he is, just like it has Johny. That's what the fans are going to want. They're going to want a rematch, Johny vs. GSP.
"The fans are what make the UFC. The fans are what make Johny, GSP, any of these guys. And that's the [group] that should get what they deserve. All those people that spent that money on that pay-per-view deserve to be able to see another fight and get to watch it."
Ultimately, Saturday night proved to be a bittersweet pill for Ehrhardt and Team Takedown to swallow. It was supposed to be the culmination of a six-year plan to develop collegiate wrestling standouts into mixed martial arts champions, and Hendricks emerged as an questionably bigger star than before. Yet still he emerged empty handed, as the belt remained where it's been since 2008, wrapped firmly around St-Pierre's waist.
"You put your heart and soul into something for six (years)," Ehrhardt sighed. "It's not just the money, by far. I've got some other large companies. It's the dedication, everything you put into it. What you see Johny put into it; his family, the sacrifices that I make with my family, the ones he makes with his family, our whole heart and soul into something for six and a half years. You feel like you're there, you feel like you've got it, and then you hear, still the champion. It was tough."