LegitMMA previews this month’s UFC 167 headliner: George St-Pierre vs Johny Hendricks.
Johnny Hendricks is considered by most to be the biggest threat to the welterweight champion, George St-Pierre. His train of a right hand has been putting opponents to sleep on a run to the title. His only loss comes to Rick Story in which he was beaten on a decision, which highlighted Hendricks’ inability to defend a takedown. GSP has returned successfully after a serious knee injury. He has defended against a dangerous Carlos Condit and a game Nick Diaz, looking just as dominant as ever in the process. St-Pierre looks to extend his run as champion further and solidify his legacy.
Here, I run through the reasons why each fighter has a chance of victory, and also what actions could hand either of them a loss.
1. The KO Power.
This is what everyone is talking about and, true to his nickname, he hits like a ‘Bigg Rigg’! Crushing fighters to within an inch of their lives, Hendricks has to be the hardest pound-for-pound puncher in MMA. GSP has been stopped off a much smaller Matt Serra so basic common sense would see Hendricks stopping GSP if he connected. However, that was a different GSP, an early version of what he no longer is. That is the difference. All I would say is that George has been caught more and more in his last two fights and seems to be slightly more vulnerable than we are used to. Hendricks needs to be agile and light on his feet to make a connection. Johnny says he is in the best shape of his life, reflected by his weight, yet he knows he will have to be quicker to catch the champ!
2. Takedown Defence
Hendricks’ loss to Rick Story outlined his poor wrestling defence. Story took an all important 3rd round which had Hendricks on his back for the majority. Rick is training at Tristar, aiding the gameplan for the fight. Hendricks will be sure to have worked hard in every area and especially his wrestling to keep the fight where he wants it. If he can stop the takedown then his chances increase big time.
GSP has come a long way as a fighter and especially as a wrestler. He has trained with Olympic-level wrestlers who claim he could compete at wrestling and do extremely well. Many victories have become ‘lay and pray’ bore fests due to faultless wrestling and ground control, but George has mastered the art and it’s pretty clear that this fight is going to be a case of putting Hendricks on his back repeatedly and taking the dynamite fist out of the equation. George’s multi-faceted style may not be displayed on fight night simply for the underlying threat that Hendricks carries in his hands.
2. Chin and Injury
As previously mentioned Matt Serra stopped GSP, so getting stopped again is most definitely a possibility. Although GSP has evolved and is a much improved fighter these days, there have been rumours that GSP may quit after this fight or in the near future. The reason is not clear (neither are the rumours) but injury would contribute a lot to that. He may not feel the same physically which could leave him vulnerable to damage and he may choose to exit at the top. Superfights are looming with Anderson Silva getting back on track but does George feel confident enough? Being caught flush a lot more in fights could be an indication that GSP simply is not as physically capable as he once was. He may want to leave at the top, in good condition to enjoy what he has built for himself.
The fight itself is going to be amazing. It will also tell us a lot about both fighters, their futures and the state of the welterweight division. As for predictions, I’m not making one, they never work out!
It’s been emotional…
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