Johny Hendricks: GSP Can’t Take Me Down

photo by Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

After a devastating knockout that sent Martin Kampmann to the Octagon mat out cold in a mere :46 seconds at UFC 154, Johny Hendricks (14-1, MMA) wants to get his shot at the UFC welterweight title. However, one thing is looming over his head and ability to achieve the goal he’s been after since he started a career in MMA; the possibility that a super fight between UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre and UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva goes down.

UFC President Dana White has already said that he’d make the fight happen. It’s quite possible it could get booked in May 2013 and happen in the Dallas Cowboys mega stadium. If the super fight does happen, what happens to the man who could be next in line for a title shot in the welterweight division?

Johny told MMA Fight Corner on Tuesday night why St-Pierre should challenge him next and not Silva.

“Well I’m not as good as Anderson, but I believe I have what it takes to beat GSP. I’m a wrestler, I’ve been wrestling since I was five. And, they say that’s what GSP is the strongest at and also I have knockout power. I can lay anybody out at any given moment. The only thing is that sometimes I like to fight, just because I like to fight. You know what I mean? I don’t like to end it fast. And sometimes I go in there and I know I have to make a statement and I know I have to do something to put myself above everybody else and that’s sort of what happened with Kampmann.”

This past weekend at UFC 154, GSP looked back his ol’ self, able to take down Carlos Condit at will. While a wrestler at Oklahoma State University, Hendricks was a NCAA four-time All-American and a three-time Big 12 conference champion. When Johny was asked if he thought St-Pierre could take him down, he said:

“No. No, I don’t. I’ve wrestled all my life and if I really wanted to I could go into a fight and take him down. I just haven’t had the thrill of wanting to take somebody down. For some reason, just hitting someone in the face is a lot more exciting to me, and also to the crowd.”

Since the Kampmann fight, Johny explained people have tweeted to him that his left hand has been figured out. While even Johny admitted that his power left shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, he described himself as a wrestler who has evolved into a striker. “My wrestling is my strongest attribute..People want to think that I’m a striker, but no, I’m really a wrestler that just learned how to implement his striking ability.”

Following his win over Josh Koscheck at UFC on FOX 3, the heavy-handed welterweight had been promised a title shot which didn’t come to fruition. His KO of Martin Kampmann was the second stunning, signature knockout of Hendricks UFC career, the first was his 12-second knockout of Jon Fitch at UFC 141.  The win was undoubtedly impressive and if there wasn’t a super fight in the works, perhaps we’d be talking about GSP vs Hendricks.

But the UFC is looking to do something that boxing hasn’t been able to do. They want to put the two top pound-for-pound fighters in the sport in the Octagon and let them prove who the true number one is. Hendricks gave his own dissection of the super fight, which he added may not be the best fight for GSP.

“Is GSP really able to take on Anderson Silva? And that’s what you have to ask yourself. And that’s what the fans are finally asking themselves. You tell me right now, can GSP honestly go in there and beat Anderson Silva? You tell me that.”

Being that St-Pierre fights at 170 pounds, Johny felt that his smaller stature would be no match for a fighter as big and as indestructible as Silva is. “We’ve seen Anderson Silva get taken down and we’ve seen Anderson Silva get hit by 205 pounders and act like nothing happened.” He also pointed out that any time Silva’s fought at 205, he’s finished each of the men who’ve had size advantage in the first round.

When weighing the pros and cons of GSP taking on Silva in a super fight, Johny said a bout against Silva would be a bad idea for any welterweight, including himself.

“That’s why we have weight classes now, because it puts us into our domain. And Condit did a great job. He did an awesome job that fight and he actually hurt GSP with a head kick. Let’s say, you saw GSP and I’m not knocking GSP by all means, and I can’t say I’d do any better; but if I’m fighting Anderson Silva, I’m sitting there going ‘Okay, this guy has laid out 205 pounders and 85 pounders, and I got hit by a 170 pounder and got wobbled. This guy is supposed to fight me and I’m supposed to be okay jumping through hoops and saying yes, let’s take this fight even though I can take him down.’ But let’s be honest, when Anderson Silva is excited for a fight, every time we’ve seen him go up in weight class he’s always excited, right? And how long do those fights take?”

About as long as a Johny Hendricks KO is the answer. With a TKO called at 4:40 in the first round at UFC 153, Stephan Bonnar lasted the longest of any light heavyweight against Anderson. Forrest Griffin lasted 3:23 into round one and James Irvin lasted 61 seconds against Silva.

GSP just unified the welterweight title last weekend and became the undisputed champion. Carlos Condit waited 9 months after earning the interim strap to challenge GSP. If St-Pierre does sign on for the challenge of a lifetime and decides to fight Silva, Hendricks would like to see the UFC have another interim title so that the division isn’t held up again.  And of course, his hope is he’d be the first person they call to compete for that title.

“I want a belt. It doesn’t matter what I fight for, or who I fight. I want a shot at the belt. And I know that if I get the interim belt, it doesn’t mean anything to me, I want to beat GSP. But if I get a shot at the interim belt, I’m going to take it. And that’s what it really boils down to, is that if GSP moves up and he goes 185, cool. And I understand why he’d want to do that and I think there might be an interim belt. I don’t know, but really, the reason why I think there might be is because the 170 class has been on hold for 8-9 months now, right? And then you hold it…another 15-16 months. And then, you think that the defending [interim title holder] getting a shot at GSP is at least another 5 months after that. So, you’re looking at another 20 or 19 months. I’m not counting the Carlos Condit one, but just one fight out of 20 months for a 170 class belt, I think that’s just holding up our division,” Hendricks stated.

“If GSP moves up, I think there will be an interim belt, and yes, I will fight for it. And I’m hoping that GSP doesn’t [move up] because realistically, I don’t hold the statue that Anderson Silva does and I know that. I know my place. He’s an amazing fighter, I watch his films and I love watching Anderson Silva fight. And so, whenever I look at this I’m like ‘Hey I can’t be mad if he wants to fight him’,” Hendricks continued. “But here’s the thing, if I’m the champ, GSP is sort of in a hard spot. Here’s the thing, is that one-you have Anderson Silva the greatest fighter in the world, I truly believe that – one of the greatest fighters ever to live, Anderson Silva. And then you got, Johny Hendricks, who is a wrestler, which GSP’s a wrestler, but [Hendricks] has knockout power. You know what I’m sayin? And we’ve seen that GSP has hard time taking the power…And what’s more exciting? I don’t know if the GSP-Anderson Silva is going to be that exciting. Because like I said, that if Anderson Silva is excited for a fight, who’s to say that it goes through the first round. I don’t know if I could go through the first round with Anderson Silva. If that super fight happens, I’m not GSP, I haven’t defended the belt for eight fights in a row, or whatever it is, I just know that if there was people in line to fight me, I’d want to fight them before I moved up.”

For now, Hendricks feels that he is the clear number one contender.  He’s decided to sit patiently and wait for his opportunity to fight for the championship. “This sport, you’re only as good as your last fight. I think the last fight put me in title contention and that’s all I can do…And I’m hoping that it stays that way. This sport changes. It’s so crazy. Right now, I told myself that I’m not going to fight until I get a title shot.”

Johny Hendricks was kind enough to join the show for 40 minutes. The interview has been separated into two segments for replay. Check it out below:
PART ONE – November 20, 2012 – Johny Hendricks interview:

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PART TWO – November 20, 2012 – Johny Hendricks interview:

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