Johny Hendricks earned the vacant UFC welterweight title Saturday in a classic five-round battle with Robbie Lawler at UFC 171.
The two welterweight animals combined for 308 significant strikes, a new high in a UFC title fight.
Despite Lawler chipping in 150 significant strikes to that metric, "Bigg Rigg" still edged him with 158 and more effective grappling, taking the fight on all three judges' scorecards by a score of 48-47.
After the win, the newly crowned king was visibly emotional post-fight inside the Octagon.
After all, the road to the title was not easy, and it contained a serious heartbreak.
In November 2013 at UFC 167, Hendricks squared off against welterweight legend Georges St-Pierre, and the tough Texan powerhouse looked better than ever.
He battered GSP.
He rocked him with heavy punches.
He pushed the pace against the former champion, and he thought he did enough to earn the judges' nod after 25 minutes of action.
A split-decision loss sent Hendricks home empty-handed, and his quest to regain the belt was reborn after GSP announced he was leaving the sport of MMA—and his welterweight title—to clear his head and to find inner peace.
After Hendricks' impressive performance against the Canadian superstar, the UFC booked him to fight Lawler for the vacant welterweight strap, and he again found himself entrenched in a close, 25-minute bout inside the Octagon, leaving his fate up to the ringside judges.
This time, they saw it Hendricks' way, and Bigg Rigg's former loss mattered naught.
He is the new champion. He earned it.
And GSP's shadow still looms large.
In the post-fight press conference, reporters asked Bigg Rigg if he feels he needs to defeat GSP to truly establish his status as the division's top dog.
"No, but I'd like to," Hendricks said. "I'd like to fight Georges again. I think it'd be fun. We had a good match. I think I'm better. There are better situations. I'm going to get stronger. This is my second fight for five rounds. I'm only learning...I have a lot to learn still."
With recent news swirling that St-Pierre may return to the Octagon (UFC President Dana White says he knows this to be a fact), Hendricks may get his wish.
Would you like to see the rematch between the new champ and the former ruler of the UFC's 170-pound division? Who do you think would take it?