UFC Welterweight title contender Johny Hendricks is in for the biggest test of his life when he faces off with legendary champion Georges St. Pierre in the main event of Saturday’s UFC 167 from Las Vegas. Thankfully for him, many think GSP is in the same position.
And for good reason. Hendricks has put down a who’s-who of top Welterweight talent the past couple of years, taking down names like Condit, Fitch, Kampmann, and Koscheck. For the most part, people are focused on Hendricks’ thunderous knockout power and his NCAA champion-level wrestling ability.
However, he believes that what isn’t always seen could make him more dangerous this Saturday. Hendricks told Bleacher Report that he is close to becoming a complete, flowing mixed martial artist that doesn’t need a gameplan even against the best Welterweight to ever step into the Octagon:
"What I do in a fight is adapt. Moment by moment, second by second, I adapt to what is happening in there. One thing I've learned is if you have a game plan...game plans can fall to crap really quickly. I know what his game plan is going to be realistically. He's going to throw a lot of jabs. He's going to throw a lot of check-hooks to keep me at bay. And he's going to try to take me down a lot. That's what he wants. As for me, I don't know what I want.
"I don't go in there with a set game plan or saying I'm going to take him down or throw certain strikes," he added. "I'm starting to blend myself as a fighter that has become sort of unpredictable, and that is what I think is going to win me this fight."
Hendricks may believe that he knows everything St. Pierre is going to do in the cage, and he may indeed do several of those things. But overall GSP is the king of gameplanning.
So we’ll have the master strategist against an elite opponent who just wants to get in there and see what happens. Perhaps St. Pierre would call Hendricks predictable, but it doesn’t matter. All that does is who has his hand raised once the dust settles on UFC 167’s main event.
Hendricks is one of the most talented fighters to make an impact at 170 pounds in several years. He shows a rare blend of power and technique that few match up well with. GSP, however, makes himself match up well with anyone regardless of what their strengths are. He neutralizes them, grinding them down over the full course of 25 minutes. Plus he’s a cardio machine. “Bigg Rigg” drew fire for fading in the third round of his decision win over Condit at UFC 158 back in March. This fight is a five-round affair, and Hendricks will be swimming in uncharted waters should it go to the championship rounds. If Hendricks can’t knock out GSP in the early rounds, can he hang with St. Pierre’s top-level conditioning? That’s a much more important aspect of this fight than any gameplan (or lack thereof) will be.
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