UFC welterweight Johny Hendricks’ demeanor often comes off like he’s just an average, ordinary kind of guy, but underneath that exterior lies a beast who is ready to unleash all the power he has come November 16. When he meets UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre (24-2) at UFC 167, Hendricks believes that with his wrestling and powerful left hand, he’ll be the one taking the title home.
Of course pulling off an upset over a champion who has a high-level of athleticism and has held onto the belt for over six years will be an uphill challenge. But the four-time NCAA division I All-American wrestler believes that he possesses all the skills to pull off the upset.
At the 2013 UFC World Tour that kicked off Monday afternoon at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, the Oklahoma native told reporters that having the spotlight and attention on him has been a bit of a different experience.
“It’s a little weird,” Hendricks said. “Realistically, I’m the average person. I wrestled for a living. I got into one fight my whole entire life. I knew nothing striking wise six years ago…And I’m still growing as a fighter. Where I’m at now today is huge.”
In four months from now, Hendricks will have the opportunity of a lifetime fighting for the UFC welterweight title. Hendricks has amassed an MMA record of 15-1 since going professional in 2007. His only setback was a unanimous decision loss to Rick Story in the UFC. After the loss, Hendricks took inventory of what went wrong and made changes to his training. Specifically, he knew he needed to come up with better game planning. Ultimately, he said the loss “helped him develop faster as a fighter.”
Since that fight, “Bigg Rigg” has gone on a 6-fight win streak to earn his shot at the belt. In mid-August he’ll begin his training camp for St-Pierre. Although he’s only began scratching the surface to dissect GSP as an opponent, Hendricks already knows that having peak conditioning will be imperative to get into the fourth and fifth rounds. Aside from preparing for that aspect, Hendricks believes he has more advantages than the champ in this fight.
“I feel like I’m stronger. I feel like I’m faster. I know I hit harder and my wrestling is better. I’m going to go out there and say my wrestling is better. Just ’cause it’s MMA, it’s a little bit different, but [my fists] help takedowns. Nobody’s gonna let me throw a punch and not keep their hands up. So in return, it makes shooting easier,” Hendricks explained.
“I’m a different fighter than he is. He’s the type of guy who wants to sit back, wait, wait, wait, as soon as you extend yourself, he’s going to come underneath. I’m the guy that’s going to move forward, make you put hands in your face to make you react and however you react, that’s the way I’m going to go.”
And to add to his arsenal, Hendricks said he’s working on developing his right hand’s power and accuracy ahead of the bout.
“I hit a power meter, I’m only ten behind my left with my right hand,” Johny said. “I’ve been using my right hand more than my left. I’ve pretty much been hurting some people, but it needs to be done. And I have yet to throw it hard because I want my training partners to keep coming back. So, I throw it with some bad intent, but not to kill.”
Previously, Hendricks has gone on record stating that he hasn’t ever unleashed his full power inside the Octagon. That’s something he promises will finally happen in November.
“I’m going to try to use everything I’ve got. I’ve been conserving it because of this right here,” Hendricks said. “This is the fight that you have to let everything go. I want to walk away, win or lose, I left everything in the Octagon. And this is going to be the fight that I let everything go. Broken hand or not, my hands have finally gotten to where they can withstand my power hitting 100 percent. That’s what I was sort of waiting for is my bone density and everything for it to get to where it can withstand everything. Now it’s just about going out there and just sharpening up everything and just letting it all fly when the time comes.”
Just a couple of weeks ago, the Hendricks family welcomed another baby girl to their brood. The proud father said everyday that whenever he wakes up and holds his baby girl in his arms, he finds motivation and inspiration to make sure he does everything he can to bring home the strap to his family.
“That’s why I do what I do. That’s why I’ve got to win this belt. Those girls right there, that’s my world. That’s why I do this and that’s why I’m going to get my hand raised.”
St-Pierre vs. Hendricks will headline UFC 167 on November 16 in the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, NV.