Hendricks Says He Hasn’t Had To “Showcase” His Whole Skillset Until Now
“It’s a feeling,” Johny Hendricks said when asked why he thinks he’ll be the man to dethrone UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre this Saturday. “It’s that desire, that want. It’s something inside of me that you can’t explain.”
By Christopher Murphy @MurphMMA
If there is one consistency in MMA, it is the regularity with which UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre’s opponents have claimed to have the answer to defeat the long-time divisional king. St-Pierre’s effective victory over these opponents has been another consistency.
But still, hard-hitting welterweight contender Johny Hendricks says that he is different.
“It’s a feeling,” Hendricks told MMA Fighting on Monday. “It’s that desire, that want. It’s something inside of me that you can’t explain.
“Here’s the thing, you never know when you’re going to win, you never know when you’re going to lose. That’s the beauty of our sport. I believe that this is my time. I’ve done everything that I can, and realistically, in the last six and a half years, I’ve only lost once, too. I’m a lot younger fighter (than St-Pierre), and I’m still developing, which I’m very grateful for.”
In fact, if you ask Hendricks about his most recent 6-0 run that earned him a shot at the 170-lb. belt, he’ll tell you that he has yet to show the fans – and his opponents – everything that he has.
“Here’s the thing, is that I don’t have to showcase my whole skillset to win fights. I haven’t had to. Now this fight I might have to. I have jiu-jitsu, I have wrestling, I have power, I have striking. So where is the inexperience or the lack of something? Everybody keeps saying (it) every fight. ‘He’s fighting Kampmann, better striker. He’s fighting Condit, a better striker.’ Where did I win those fights at? Everybody keeps doubting me, and I love that. I absolutely love that.”
While Hendricks will look to implement parts of his fighting abilities yet to be seen, one thing that may hinder his success is the fact that he has yet to fight in a main event – which means he has yet to fight in a 5-round fight and with the added pressure of intense focus from the media.
“Man, I’ve been under the lights since my freshman year in high school,” Hendricks said, laughing off the idea that he is inexperienced with the attention. “I wrestled 140 matches in high school I wrestled 140 matches in college. That spotlight doesn’t get much more than that. I’ve been competing my whole life. Who cares about the spotlight? Who cares about all this other crap? I’m facing a man. I’m facing Georges St-Pierre. You see what I’m saying? Experience? I have plenty of experience.”
As far as the duration of the bout, Hendricks says he is ready for whatever comes.
“I was pushing myself to the limit every day that I possibly could,” he said. “I think, now, I am ready.”
Part of that daily grind included regular trips back to Oklahoma State University, Hendricks’ alma mater where he trained with top college wrestlers. The stints at OSU have helped so much that Hendricks’ coaches say he could stand a shot at trying out for the Olympic team.
“It’s hard. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a brutal grind, a constant grind; but that’s what I love about it. It’s a grind that you can’t get anywhere else, and that’s what this fight is going to be. It’s going to be a grind. If I have any chance of winning, I have to grind. I have to move forward, and that’s what wrestling has taught me through many years. That’s why I want to get back to those roots.
“One thing I’ve learned, if you watch all my fights, I push very, very hard the first two rounds, because I have to win two out of three, right? Well now I’ve got to win three out of five. So that changed up the way I’m looking for stuff. I’ve worked a lot on my boxing, a lot on my kickboxing, to not only just go for the kill, but also to set up the kill. That’s something that I’m looking forward to, to see how that adapts, see if I can translate what I’ve learned these last four months into the Octagon.”
Of course, Hendricks has a challenge ahead of him before he can get into the Octagon with St-Pierre: cutting down his weight to the division limit of 170 lbs. He says that goal will divert his focus from the media and glamour surrounding the UFC’s 20th anniversary in the week leading up to fight night.
“You enjoy the ride, but don’t focus on the ride,” said Hendricks. “I know it’s the 20th anniversary, but that’s at the back of my mind. My main focus is on Georges St-Pierre, of course, and right now it’s making 170. As soon as I make 170, then that’s when all the fun begins.”
You can catch UFC 167 live this Saturday from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. The main card will air on Pay-Per-View at 10pm/7pm ETPT with preliminary cards streaming online at 6:30pm/3:30pm ETPT and on FOX Sports 1 at 8pm/5pm ETPT.