When people contemplate the outcome of the upcoming main event at UFC 167, the general consensus is that GSP will win by decision through implementing a strong wrestling clinic, or Hendricks will find a way to put GSP away with his legendary knockout abilities.
Where the merits of these predictions exist, they fail to paint the whole picture. At the end of the day, two fighters will dance to a tune only they can hear and only they are capable of sustaining. Styles make fights. They also decide the outcome. Regardless of a fighter’s history, he still has to get in the cage with his opponent, and create opportunity where he finds it.
Both GSP and Hendricks know what the other is capable of pulling off in the cage. What Hendricks doesn’t seem aware of, is that he can get knocked out if he’s not careful against GSP, regardless of trending likelihoods. Against his last opponent in Carlos Condit at UFC 158, Hendricks exhibited complete reckless abandon when he absolutely exploded out the gate at Condit, which set up for a well deserved fight of the night performance from both men, illuminating the fact that Hendricks is not afraid of his opponents at this point in his career.
If Hendricks chooses to come out against a strong finisher in Condit like he did, I can’t imagine what he plans on doing when the referee signals the action to begin and steps back from him and the champ at UFC 167 on November 16th. If he wasn’t afraid of a man who finishes most of his opponents, GSP who almost feels incapable of finishing anyone of late will only inspire Hendricks to unload even more heartily than ever before.
Breaking down the actual fight, Hendricks is going to do what he does best, and that’s running forward with hooks and overhands a blazin, dropping leather or take-downs, depending on what presents itself. GSP will look to time Hendrick’s bum rushes and stop him with jabs, or counter take downs of his own. In the first round or two, GSP will find more openings than he’s going to know what to do with from a man who has bought in to his own hype, for better or worse. It’s a specific type of hype that GSP is more than familiar with and up to this point, has always had an answer for.
The counter fighter always has the advantage of watching his opponent make the first move. GSP is still a fighter and regardless of the absence of any trace of his former finishing abilities lately, he’s going to catch Hendricks rushing in. In fact, he’s counting on this.
All the UFC 167 promo’s have over played Hendricks confidently stating that GSP has never fought such a high level wrestler with knockout power as himself. That statement could not be any more false. With the accuracy GSP exhibited against another strong wrestler in Josh Koscheck at UFC 124, he’s proven he can decisively beat a wrestling based fighter with knockout power already.
Interestingly enough, Hendricks fought the same opponent more recently last year at UFC on FOX 3 where he pulled off a close split decision victory. A win that was considered by many fans as highway robbery at Koscheck’s expense.
I’ll admit maybe Koscheck isn’t the same fighter he was a couple years ago when he was the top dog under GSP among the welterweights. Realistically what’s more probable is that Hendricks is not the hybrid fighter destined to take GSP’s belt and usher in a new era at 170. Most likely, GSP will take another very impressive fighter who seems incapable of losing, and hand him his first loss in years.
More painful than watching GSP win by decision once again is watching the UFC and media alike promote every GSP opponent as the scary fighter come to take the classy champion down for all the marbles. It’s painfully redundant at this point, and in my opinion, detracts from what really makes Johny Hendricks a truly deserving number one contender.
Hendricks deserves his undisputed #1 contender status because he has simply beaten everyone in his division who was anybody worth watching, since he joined the UFC from the WEC merger back in 2009 when he upset newly crowned TUF winner Amir Sadollah, by starching him in 29 seconds at UFC 101 in a performance that foreboded things to come for many of his future opponents in the division.
I get it though. Everyone wants to see GSP get put away like he did against Matt Serra at UFC 69. No love is ever lost for point fighters in MMA, especially when they hold the lofty title of champion in the UFC, and even more so if they have been holding on to the top spot for years in the same fashion.
Forced to answer the question of who’s the UFC’s biggest draw in his company, Dana White always lists an assortment of obvious names. Interesting enough though, he ranks GSP as his top draw among them. That says a lot about a fighter who many say is too boring to watch. Of course no one could pay me to watch GSP vs. Jake Shields. That one had snoozer written all over it and I’m glad I still haven’t taken the time to waste those 25 minutes of my life since then.
GSP knows he’s gotta put Hendricks in an uncomfortable spot. It’s probably not likely Hendricks will care if he winds on the ground with the champ or exchanging punches on the feet. Therefore GSP must put the #1 contender in a zone he’s not used to. While Hendricks runs in looking for GSP’s chin, I bet GSP finds his first.