It's been more than six years since UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre has lost a fight in the Octagon. His 11 consecutive wins have included wrestlers, strikers and jiu-jitsu specialists. They haven't included anybody quite like Johny Hendricks.
Josh Koscheck, whom St-Pierre has beaten twice, was the closest analogue. Like Hendricks, he was a former NCAA wrestling champion. Like Hendricks, he had developed a well-rounded game.
But Koscheck didn't have dynamite in his hands. Hendricks does. Twice he's knocked out top-10 contenders with a single punch within the first minute of the fight.
That punching power, combined with his wrestling prowess, makes Hendricks a very dangerous foe for St-Pierre, whose game is predicated on controlling the fight for a full 25 minutes. St-Pierre hasn't finished a fight in more than four years. It's almost a given that he will go the distance in a win. He only need make one mistake in that five-round span for Hendricks to make him pay dearly.
It's a dynamic that is bound to make every moment of the fight, even the dull ones, wrought with tension. Normally, St-Pierre defending his title is never really in question. At UFC 167, it will be. And that alone is reason to celebrate.
Of course, UFC 167 is bigger than just GSP and Hendricks. Perennial stars Rashad Evans and Chael Sonnen will compete in the co-main event and the undercard is packed with compelling matchups. Let's take a look and see what makes this, potentially, one of the best cards of the year.