Just a few short months ago on the heels of a blistering knockout of Martin Kampmann at UFC 154, Johny Hendricks sat poised on the cusp of receiving a welterweight title shot against Georges St-Pierre.
Instead, the UFC opted to give perpetual bad boy Nick Diaz the shot instead when St-Pierre asked to face him as opposed to taking on Hendricks.
Fast forward to Thursday when Hendricks had to sit on a media conference call for the better part of 45 minutes listening to St-Pierre and Diaz go back and forth at each other without his name coming up for almost the entire duration of the conversation.
Finally, Hendricks' ears perked up when it was Diaz who finally mentioned his name, but it wasn't a compliment—only a disparaging remark stating why he's not fighting for the UFC welterweight title and Diaz was the man for the job.
"You gonna go out there and work out with Johny (Hendricks) and you guys are going to have a wrestling match? No, that's not what nobody wants to see that," Diaz shouted when speaking to St-Pierre.
Instead of erupting like St-Pierre and Diaz did for most of the call, Hendricks sounded like he just woke up from a deep meditation when he was finally asked a question. On paper, Hendricks was clear and away the No. 1 contender for the welterweight title, yet still he ends up in the co-main event while watching Diaz battle St-Pierre on the same card.
Did Diaz's comments rattle Hendricks to the point of an angry, four-letter response? No, far from it actually.
"If he's watching my fights when have I ever took anybody down? I have wrestling, yeah I do, my background is wrestling. I have knockout power. Just because I don't go out there and use it all, you don't have to use it all to win fights," Hendricks said referencing Diaz's comments about him earlier in the call.
"The most important thing is to win fights. Doesn't matter how you do it. If that means you've got to take the guy down to get a win like Georges does, then do it. It's about getting your hand raised and the fans like that."
Quite possibly the strangest turn happened when Hendricks then ended up agreeing with St-Pierre's "win at any cost" strategy, even if it means a five-round decision. In a matter of only a few minutes, Diaz managed to turn Hendricks from a staunch St-Pierre adversary into an advocate for what he was preaching.
"(Diaz) has his opinion, I've got mine. It doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is like Georges said, everybody's got to be on top, but there can only be one and we're all fighting to get there," Hendricks added.
While Hendricks would like nothing more than to fight St-Pierre at UFC 158, it's not happening, and instead he draws former interim champion Carlos Condit.
There will undoubtedly be a great amount of focus during fight week with questions being thrown at Hendricks about St-Pierre and a title shot looming overhead. Hendricks is careful, however, not to let the angst of not fighting for the belt now cloud his performance next Saturday night. A loss to Condit would dash his title hopes before they ever become reality.
"Nothing else matters but Carlos Condit at this point," said Hendricks. "If I even think about overlooking him, he'll definitely beat me. I've got to go out there and nothing else matters but Carlos Condit."
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report, and all quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
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