UFC welterweight title contender Johny Hendricks has walked a long road to finally get his shot at the belt at this November’s UFC 167 from Las Vegas. Knocking out top 170-pounders like Martin Kampmann and Jon Fitch along the way, he most recently beat Carlos Condit in a rousing battle at UFC 158 last March.
The win put him in prime position to face off with perennial titleholder Georges St. Pierre, and many are speculating that Hendricks is indeed the man to finally pull the belt from GSP’s iron grip.
However, Hendricks knows what the champ’s strengths are, and he’s definitely not looking to play into them. Even though Hendricks has one of the best collegiate wrestling resumes in MMA, he spoke up at yesterday’s UFC World Tour 2013 event in Las Vegas to clarify his intentions:
"I don't want to take 'GSP' down. I want to lay him out. That's all I want to do. That's what the fans want to see, and I know I have the power in both hands to do it. I will bite on my mouthpiece and eat a jab to land a right or a left hand on his jaw line," Hendricks said. "That's the difference. Punch me in the face, I'll punch you twice as hard.”
“Bigg Rigg” is pulling no punches about his ‘gameplan’ at UFC 167, and while he has respect for St. Pierre as an accomplished champion, he also has the utmost belief and confidence in his own skills:
"Give 'em respect because they have the belt, but he's just a person. I can beat anybody at any given time, and that's sort of the mentality that you've got to have when you're facing somebody with the belt.”
That sounds like a viewpoint we’ve heard quite recently, that of newly minted UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman. Hendricks is looking at GSP like he’s just another opponent, very similar to how Weidman viewed the seemingly invincible Anderson Silva.
Will this translate into championship success for Hendricks?