Open up two browsers on your computer and put GSP’s win/loss record next to Johny Hendrick’s. What you’ll find is that both fighters share a very significant reoccurring theme. Neither loses too often. In fact, totaling their combined performances in the UFC/MMA up to this point, they are 49-3.
That’s why it’s a recipe for a dynamic engagement within the mixed martial arts world. What really sets this fight a part from previous title fights at welterweight, is the potential for a knockout.
GSP is riding the longer win streak comparatively to the two, but Hendricks is boasting the most finishes in recent years. Therefore, it’s more likely that GSP will either earn another decision, or Hendricks will catch the champ with an aggressive over hand right and send his opponent skidding across the canvas and in to the history books.
Where many will give the champ the nod in this one, listed below are five reasons why Hendricks has more than a chance at becoming the UFC welterweight champion at UFC 167 this September.
~ #1 Knockout power ~
One thing we know about Hendricks these days is that if he manages to put one of those mitts on his opponent, they are going to find themselves waking up in the corner of the cage with rug burns on their back as evidence of the truck that hit them which we have been fond of calling “Bigg Rigg” by way of Oklahoma native, Johny Hendricks.
As a south paw, Hendricks style is difficult for any fighter to adjust to, and may become even more unpredictable by the time September rolls around, with the way Hendricks has been talking about his training evolution.
He believes he’s power in his right hand that’s similar to the god given ability possessed by his right. Therefore, GSP may find himself in trouble if he can’t follow both haymakers, simultaneously.
~ #2 Aggression ~
Did you see the way Hendricks came out the gate in his last fight at UFC 158 against Carlos Condit? The entire story of the fight followed a singular theme. It involved Hendricks careening in to Condit for 3 rounds of action as he threw everything but the kitchen sink at the former #1 contender.
If he brings this style against the champ, and rest assured he will, it will be difficult for GSP to get in to a rhythm and may set the first main event in UFC welterweight history since spring 2007 to end before the bell.
~ #3 Hunger ~
These days, GSP looks methodical and uninspiring with the way he fights. Sure his style is effective and skillfully executed, yet it lacks that which Hendricks has been bringing to the table, which is a penchant for finishing contenders. Hendricks has finished 4 of his last 7 opponents, while GSP, only 1.
With five rounds to go, GSP will have to continually find new ways to throw off Hendricks if he plans on simply out pointing the #1 contender for the entire match.
~ #4 Wrestling ~
It’s very possible that the outcome of the fight will be dictated within the first moment GSP shoots in for a takedown attempt. Expect a minute or two of stand up from the champ, then an instant shot inside. GSP will want to take away Hendricks KO power by forcing the fight to the ground.
But where GSP has handled every wrestler in the past, he may have another thing coming on one Saturday night in September, if he finds his take downs being denied at every turn. That would leave the champ’s head floating in front of Hendricks for longer than anyone rooting for GSP would care to see.
~ #5 Location ~
Finally, the one thing GSP will find different from any of the circumstances in recent years is the location of the fight. UFC 167 will not happen in Canada, which will be the first time the welterweight champ will have fought outside of his home country since 2009 at UFC 100 against Thiago Alves.
That’s something to ponder for a moment. If hometown advantage matters in MMA, it may be the slight edge that wins Hendricks the night. If GSP has proven anything in recent years, it’s that he values his mindset in fights over all other aspects of his fight game. If he finds himself struggling to mentally maintain during the fight, he may find himself feeling a little de ja vu (a la Matt Serra) at UFC 167.