Even though a few recent title challengers in the Ultimate Fighting Championship talked their way into contention, Johny “Bigg Rigg” Hendricks earned his title shot the old-fashioned way, piling up impressive victories against top welterweights like Josh Koscheck, Jon Fitch, Martin Kampmann and Carlos Condit.
Hendricks (15-1-0, 8 KOs) is now set to challenge welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre for the promotion’s 170-pound division’s strap, and he couldn’t be any more confident heading into their UFC 167 championship tilt scheduled for Nov. 16 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
It’s hard to fault Hendricks for his confidence since he is one of the toughest challengers St. Pierre has faced in a while. Bigg Rigg is a solid boxer, he closes in on opponents exceptionally well, and his wrestling isn’t too shabby.
Then there’s his well-documented knockout power.
Clearly, the challenger has valid reasons to feel good about his chances against GSP.
“I gotta beat Georges St. Pierre, and I plan on doing it,” Hendricks said during the second day of UFC World Tour 2013. “Anybody can be beat. Any given time. And I believe I have what it takes to — and can — beat Georges St. Pierre.”
While Hendricks seems to be a tough adversary for GSP on paper, victory is far from guaranteed for the challenger. The longtime welterweight champion consistently brings his very best come fight time, and his remarkable technique, striking and grappling-wise might prove to be too much for Hendricks to handle.
With potential super-fight still looming around the corner, GSP has a lot to lose if he falls at UFC 167 so the Canadian remains solely focused on his bout against Hendricks.
“I’m focusing on Johny Hendricks, that’s all that’s in my head,” St. Pierre said. “I don’t see further than that. I think I’m going to have my hands full with Johny Hendricks, and that’s all I’m thinking about right now.”
GSP would be smart to use his jab to keep Hendricks at bay similarly to the way his training partner, Rory MacDonald, used his against Jake Ellenberger at UFC on Fox 8, as Bigg Rigg will undoubtedly try to get inside and land one of his devastating left hooks during their title showdown.
Still, Johny isn’t overly concerned about St Pierre’s — extremely effective — jab.
“I’ll eat a jab for a left hand any day,” Hendricks added. “All I got to do is touch him. My left hand is going to do that, and I’ll bite down on my mouthpiece all day long [and trade] a jab for a left hand. Wouldn’t you?”