Exclusive: Johny Hendricks On Earning a Title Shot, Working as a team and GSP-Condit
Hendricks trains day in and day out with a great group of fighters who are also his friends. We’ve had teammates, Chas Skelly, Chris Feist, Shane Roller, Jared Rosholt and Jake Rosholt on the show before and they all spoke very highly of Johny. Hendricks draws a lot of inspiration and motivation from those guys just as they do from him.
“Being a part of a team is very important to me and I want everybody to be successful,” said the two-time NCAA Division I National Championship Wrestler. “I have to lead by example, hard work does pay off and it can pay off. That’s something I’ve been telling people for awhile and for some it takes a little more time for them to understand it. Good people rub off on good people; I try to go out there and train my hardest and lead by example, which allows them to train that much harder. In turn they push me even harder and it goes on and on, that’s how I want the gym to be.”
We had spoken with Kampmann right before Hendricks called into the show and he told us he preferred if their bout was the main event of a smaller card so it would have consisted of five rounds rather than three because of the implications that come with this match-up. We asked Hendricks whether or not he agreed with Kampmann’s statement.
“Five rounds or three rounds, it doesn’t really matter to me,” Hendricks said matter-of-factly. “I’ve trained for a five round fight for this camp, that’s something my coaches & I discussed from the beginning. Because it’s only a three round fight and I’ve prepared for five I get to go that much harder. If an injury happens to occur (In the main event) then I know I’m ready to go five rounds as well. The pressure doesn’t bother me because ever since I started I knew I wanted to win the UFC title.”
Being a 4-time All-American wrestler, Hendricks always has the ability to take the fight to the ground whenever he feels the need, but he has relied on an improved stand-up game more and more lately. Kampmann is also very versatile and it will be interesting what plan of attack Hendricks decides to take come November 17. Regardless of his game plan, Hendricks knows he’s in for an extremely tough fight.
“Kampmann’s striking is crisper than my last two opponents (Fitch and Koshcheck), but Koshcheck and even Mike Pierce, are heavy handed guys on top of being good wrestlers,” said Hendricks. “At any given moment you might wake up in your locker room wondering what happened. Kampmann tries to throw punches when you’re not ready, so you have to focus more on how he’s throwing his strikes rather than how hard he’s throwing them.”
“Against Koscheck I had to worry about every punch because if I didn’t it might have been my last one in that fight. With Kampmann it’s not the first couple, it’s the one when you might be backing up and he hits you in the face. Kampmann is definitely trickier, but Koscheck was scarier because I got hit by him a couple of times and they certainly got my attention.”
“I’m definitely preparing for a three round fight with Kampmann. I would never go into a fight thinking I’m going to knock anyone out. I always dream about it, but in reality I go into each fight expecting it to be a hard three round fight. If I don’t train for that then I’m kidding myself because you never know how a fight is going to go. I could hit him with everything I have and he might not go down. He’s not going to quit, he’s going to take a lot of punishment especially considering there is a title shot on the line. In my mind I’m expecting to see the best Kampmann we’ve seen and for him to fight harder than he ever has.”
The winner of Hendricks-Kampmann will be a very interested observer in the bout that follows theirs as UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre returns to the Octagon for the first time since April of last year in an attempt to unify the titles with interim welterweight champion Carlos Condit. Many people are picking GSP to win by decision, but will the long layoff play a big factor? And are people really going to overlook how talented a fighter Condit is?
“There are a couple of questions, first and foremost how strong is GSP’s knee,” Hendricks asked. “I’m hoping that it’s 100% because then it’s going to be a great fight. If his knee is 100% then we have to ask how strong Condit’s takedown defense is. If GSP can take him down then it will be his fight all the way, but if his knees aren’t good and he hesitates to take the shot then Condit is pretty deadly with his knees. If it turns into a stand-up battle I would have to give the edge to Condit.”
There is one underlying factor that needs to be addressed and that is the proposed superfight between GSP and middleweight champion Anderson Silva. UFC President Dana White has said that if St.Pierre defeats Condit then he would like to match the two champions against one another. After all the hard work Hendricks has put in how would he feel about taking a back seat so the UFC could have their dream fight?
“It would suck and if it were two years ago and the contenders at 170 were few and far between or I and some of the other current contenders had their shot at GSP, it would be totally understandable,” offered Hendricks. “My whole thought process is I want to see if I can beat him before anyone else gets a shot at him. I believe I have what it takes to beat GSP and that I’ve done the best that I could to earn that opportunity. I’m starting to understand that striking isn’t everything, I know I can go out there and wrestle with everyone, but I also know I want to try and finish my fights. I want a shot at the belt; I’ve fought and defeated some of the same guys he has. I feel like I deserve to get my shot.”