It sounds like the UFC's new welterweight champion has been listening a pretty good former one.
On Monday UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes told Ariel Helwani that a trilogy bout between his former protege Robbie Lawler and former champ Johny Hendricks should take precedent over a rematch with No. 2 welterweight Rory MacDonald.
In October MacDonald was promised the next crack at the title somewhere in his native Canada, but UFC president Dana White sounded noncommittal after watching Lawler snatch the belt from Hendricks at UFC 181 on Dec. 6.
Lawler scored a split decision over MacDonald in November of 2013 at UFC 167, but sounds more interested in the rubber match with Hendricks.
"I'm very confident in my skills and think, if we fought again, I would win," Lawler told Sherdog.com. "Johny is a hell of a fighter, a hell of a competitor, and I look forward to meeting him again. Now that we have each won one apiece -- and they were close fights -- I think we need to figure this one out."
Lawler isn't ruling out the fight with MacDonald, but says he'd prefer not to fight until 'late May, June or July.'
"If the bosses think that makes sense and that's the fight everyone wants to see I'm sure they will make it happen, but I'm just relaxing right now," said Lawler. "I'm not even thinking about that. I'm sure Dana, Lorenzo [Fertitta], Joe [Silva], and Sean [Shelby] will put their heads together and we will see what happens."
While the scorecards may have been a bit more debatable than the overall decision, Lawler believes it was his late push in round five that swayed the judges.
"I was confident. I felt like I did a lot of damage, ducked a lot of shots, landed a lot of knees and kicks," Lawler said. "Obviously, Johny's a competitor. He does a great job of winning rounds, but I just felt like I was the one doing the most damage out there. It was a close fight."
5 MUST-READ STORIES
Signal to noise. Luke Thomas gives you the best and worst of UFC 181, including his take on the signing of CM Punk. 'This is a means to an end and little more. It's also one that will work in the service of that goal, but doesn't come without a lasting negative effect. There is no such thing as a free lunch.'
Weighing in. Some of the sport's top managers discuss the UFC's uniform deal with Reebok and who it stands to help or hurt the most.
The author. UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey plans to pen an autobiographical book due to be released in 2015. 'Hopefully readers can learn the same lessons I did -- without having to take as many punches in the face.'
Money. Dave Meltzer explains how Bellator fighters could be the big winner in the UFC's new uniform deal with Reebok. 'With Bellator only having a handful of fighters with a real name brand, the competition to sponsor those few fighters will go way up.'
Junior dos Santos talks changes in his training camp.
Highlights from ONE FC 23.
TUF winner Julianna Pena back in the gym sparring.
KO's of the week from Inside MMA.
Ariel Helwani discusses the signing of CM Punk.
Gonna need a montage.
Don't blame Dolce.
@TheDolceDiet is amazing. The responsibility is all mine. I was 218lbs and waited too long to start eating properly.— Johny Hendricks (@JohnyHendricks) December 9, 2014
Stiiiiiiiiiiill waiting about $$ sponsorship from my last fight in September. Patience is getting over soon !!! #payyourfighters— patrick cote (@patrick_cote) December 8, 2014
Gegard Mousasi (@mousasi_mma) December 9, 2014
All @ufc fighters I encourage all of you to speak up about sponsors that are stealing from you. We have to support each other!— Gegard Mousasi (@mousasi_mma) December 9, 2014
Stefan Struve (@StefanStruve) December 9, 2014
Bec Rawlings (@RowdyBec) December 10, 2014
Don't hurt him.
Chris Holdsworth (@holdsworth135) December 8, 2014
Corn rows have finally been released. Gonna keep the new dew. Styling...profiling....chilling in the... http://t.co/PICcTdUV5q— Urijah Faber (@UrijahFaber) December 9, 2014
Announced yesterday (Dec. 9 2014)
Fernando Gonzalez vs. Marius Zaromskis at Bellator 132
FANPOST OF THE DAY
Today's Fanpost of the Day comes via Michael Shulski.
Noted fight analyst Jack Slack has recently written some half-serious, satirical pieces on the effectiveness of the leg scissors in mma and the excellent martial arts skills of Star Trek's Captain Kirk. Slack even supported these semi absurd ideas with gifs and videos. Slack doesn't really think that the catch wrestling based leg scissor maneuver even has a remote chance of catching on in modern mma. These articles were written in a playful spirit. Most likely with the spirit to entertain.
In the same, fun spirit as Jack Slack, I'm going to present evidence that CM Punk's pro wrestling experience will make him a better mma fighter. The conventional wisdom is that fighters need to train specifically in mma for years before entering the UFC. At the very least, most would say a fighter should at least have a specialization in wrestling, kick boxing/striking or jiu-jitsu. Maybe CM Punk already has skills that can't be examined in these narrative frameworks. There are three factors analysts are not considering.
Found something you'd like to see in the Morning Report? Just hit me up on Twitter @SaintMMA and we'll include it in tomorrow's column.