In the past, there have been many contenders who have been hyped as the most dangerous challenge to unseat long-time UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre. However, there seems to be something genuine about the prospects for top-contender Johny Hendricks heading into UFC 167 in Las Vegas.
It will clearly be the biggest fight of Hendricks’s career at the UFC’s 20th anniversary event. “Bigg Rigg” is on quite the roll with six straight victories, including impressive knockouts in less than a minute over Martin Kampmann and Jon Fitch. His most recent effort was a Fight of the Night performance as Hendricks recorded a hard-fought decision win at UFC 158 over former interim champion Carlos Condit.
Hendricks possesses true one-punch power in his left hand and says he’s been working on improving his right hand as well. The Oklahoma State product is a former two-time NCAA wrestling champion and a four-time All American. It is this wrestling pedigree that separates him from previous challengers like Dan Hardy, Thiago Alves, Nick Diaz and Condit.
St.Pierre is considered one of the elite wrestlers in the game, and has posted many dominant title-retaining performances by utilizing his tremendous takedowns to beat up and control his opponents in his ground-and-pound technique. Not only does it allow the champ to secure points, it has helped to completely negate the offense of his challengers.
There are some who still believe that St.Pierre’s chin is a question mark even though his shocking knockout loss to Matt Serra at UFC 69 was years ago. St.Pierre was rocked by a high head kick in his successful defense against Condit at UFC 154 but managed to survive.
St.Pierre considers himself the best in the business at not getting hit inside the Octagon, and has an understated striking game. His jab is stiff, capable of damaging an opponent. and allows him to set up combinations. Of course, there’s his ever-present takedown game. Hendricks is supremely confident that his wrestling skills will make the fight to be more of a stand-up contest than the champion would like.
Hendricks can definitely shake up the welterweight division if he becomes the first man to get the better of the champion in nine title fights. He is confident that he will be able to land one of those fight-ending left hands in a 25-minute affair.
As for St.Pierre, he’s heard it all before, and has turned aside all challenges in his second stint as UFC welterweight champion. He will look to cement his legacy as one of the UFC’s all-time greats on a special night for the organization. With another successful defense this weekend, GSP would stand alone with 19 wins inside the Octagon, surpassing Hall-of -amer Matt Hughes.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports